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Free Cell Phones A Wasted Luxury

6 April 2002

Giving all 15,000 Te Wananga o Aotearoa correspondence students free mobile phones as part of their course is a very poor use of public education dollars, says National's Education spokesman, Nick Smith.

"Taxpayers will be livid that their dollars are being wasted on this sort of luxury. The wananga is naïve if it thinks the cell phones will just be used for education purposes.

"There are far better ways this $2 million could be spent to give Maori students the skills they need to get jobs.

"The explanation from chief executive, Rongo Wetere, that the taxpayer-funded cell phones are needed because some students live in remote areas does not wash. This could be justified if it was a limited programme for remote students, but when every student on the Mahi Ora course gets one, it is a poor excuse.

"The Government's spending priorities are all wrong. It's dishing out millions for free student cell phones, thousands for taxi rides for able-bodied school children and giving T-shirts to pupils - but it can't find the money to pay teachers properly," says Dr Smith.


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