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Greens Fully Behind Universal Allowance Campaign

15 May 2002

Green Tertiary Education Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos will today pledge full Green support for a new campaign to have universal student allowances introduced for all tertiary students.

Nandor will speak at the launch of the NZUSA campaign at 12pm today in Midlands Park, Wellington.

"The Greens have been calling for some time for the introduction of universal allowances set at the same level as the unemployment benefit. It is plain dumb to penalise people for wanting to get an education," said Nandor.

"With student loan debt hitting $5 billion we are really concerned about the costs of tertiary education and the debt that are young people are racking up.

"The Greens see the introduction of universal allowances as a key way to start phasing out the loan scheme and encouraging people into higher learning. It is empty rhetoric to talk about a knowledge wave while the present system remains in place."

Nandor urged the Government to follow the lead of the Blair Government in the UK and fundamentally rethink the entire student loans scheme.

"Along with universal allowances the Government must re-introduce the Emergency Unemployment Benefit for students over the summer break."

Green MP Sue Bradford introduced a private members bill last year seeking to have the EUB re-introduced. Both Labour and the Alliance voted it down.

"Tertiary education and student debt was a defining issue at the last election. The Greens are disappointed at progress during so far. After nine years of slash and burn under the National Party the sector needs substantial and radical change rather than the tinkering around the edges.

"We welcome the NZUSA campaign to raise awareness and push for universal student allowances and the Greens will be supporting NZUSA all the way," said Nandor.

Nandor will ask oral question number number eight on this issue this afternoon

Ends

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