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Enough talk on loans, time for action - Nandor

24 January 2002

Tertiary Education spokesperson Nandor Tanczos said today the Greens would work with the Govt to resolve the student loan crisis, but warned that they wanted to see a real commitment to resolving the problem.

"There's been plenty of talking, but little action on student loans over the last two years. Steve Maharey will have a real challenge to come up with an acceptable solution that the rest of the Government will buy into."

Nandor said he had been disappointed that last year's report from the select committee, which did not have a Green Party MP on it, had been so wack.

"We can all see that the loan scheme is dragging students down. The Government needs to bear in mind that the whole economy is suffering as individual debt levels rise and graduates go overseas in search of bigger incomes.

"The problem is clear, and we don't need to see it set out again. What we need is the Minister to put up some solutions."

Nandor said the Green Party wanted to see universal student allowances and emergency unemployment benefits for summer brought back. Greens also want loan write-offs for graduates who choose to work (either paid or unpaid) in New Zealand.

"Loan write-offs have been our policy since before the last election, and I'm fascinated to see that Maurice Williamson is now promoting a similar policy. It just shows the National Party can recognise a good idea when they fall over one."

Nandor said write-offs did raise difficult equity issues for students who had already paid off all or part of their loans, but he believed they could be resolved.

"How to do this fairly is something I expect the Government to be talking about with all involved parties in May."

ENDS

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