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'Keeping Leash On Student loans' Staggers Greens

Greens Staggered By Alliance 'Keeping Leash On Student Loans'

Green Party Education Spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street MP today said he was staggered to see the Alliance claiming that keeping the interest rate on student loans at seven per cent was good news for students.

Mr Ewen-Street was responding to a media statement from Alliance Education Spokesperson Liz Gordon titled 'Alliance Keeps Student Loans On A Leash'.

"I simply cannot believe that the Alliance is saying that keeping the interest rate at seven per cent is 'good news for students' and 'proof of the positive role the Alliance is playing in Government', especially as this rate is on a par with commercial lending rates and commercial banks are beginning to undercut this rate to help students pay their loans off quicker," said Mr Ewen-Street.

"As Ms Gordon says, in Australia and the United Kingdom students are only charged interest at the rate of inflation. The Government's claim that keeping the interest rate at seven per cent is good news for students shows just how little genuine good news there is in the tertiary sector at the moment."

Mr Ewen-Street said he was encouraged by the Alliance talking of adopting the Green Party's debt write-off policy for graduates who stayed and worked in New Zealand but said he was concerned by comments that this scheme only apply to science and engineering students.

Mr Ewen-Street said the bigger issue, which was far more important than any tinkering around the edges, was the winding up of the loan scheme.

"If tertiary institutions were properly resourced then tuition fees could come down to affordable levels and if this went hand in hand with the introduction of living allowances then there would be no need for a loan scheme," he said.

"If the Alliance want to be taken seriously on the issue of tertiary education - especially given their campaigning at the last election - then they are going to have to deliver far more good news than claiming to have kept the interest rate on loans at seven per cent," said Mr Ewen-Street.

"Students have not forgotten the Alliance voting down the Green Party's bill to reinstate the Emergency Unemployment Benefit last year and real action is needed now to make up for that breach of faith."

Ian Ewen-Street MP: 04 470 6726, 025 902 527

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