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Maharey Minister of Double Standards

Maharey Minister of Double Standards

Friday 23 Nov 2001 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Tertiary Education

ACT Tertiary Education Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today attacked Minister Steve Maharey for having double standards.

"When I brought my concerns regarding what appeared to be a substantial student loan rort in Taranaki, to the attention of the Minister six months ago, he was dismissive. `The member is confused...' he said.

"In fact, not for the first time, it was the Minister who was confused. The facts we uncovered in the first half of the year were compelling - students taking up millions of dollars in loans and getting effectively free computers - then dropping out of their courses.

"If we had not exposed this issue in the first place by asking numerous Parliamentary questions about it, the Minister would have continued on in the dark.

"It now appears that the rort has cost taxpayers millions and millions of dollars involving thousands of students, hardly an insubstantial concern. The Minister should have treated the issue seriously instead of being so arrogantly dismissive.

"Our investigations early this year showed that there was a glaring loophole in the student loan scheme. Certainly it is welcome that the Government is now moving to close it - but how many more millions of taxpayer dollars have been lost that this Government doesn't know about?

"It is worrying that the Minister has dithered for over 6 months over this investigation. It now concerns me that other matters relating to fraud that I have referred to him may not be treated seriously.

"I will be writing to the Minister to seek his assurance that all matters relating to the fraudulent abuse of taxpayers money are being fully followed-up and investigated," Dr Newman said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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