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Gordon Wholeheartedly Supports Allowance Campaign

Gordon Wholeheartedly Supports NZUSA Allowance Campaign

15 May 2002

Alliance education spokesperson Liz Gordon today gave her full support to a student allowance campaign being launched today by the New Zealand University Students Association. The campaign calls for the reintroduction of universal student allowances in two stages, first by raising the parental income thresholds used to assess allowance eligibility, followed by a removal of the parental income test altogether.

"Increasing eligibility to student allowances is the best immediate step that can be taken to relieve student debt. It will be the first priority for the Alliance in the next term of Government."

She said that during recent budget negotiations the Alliance had identified student support as one of its priorities, requesting that the thresholds for student allowances be raised to make up for 10 years of inflation.

"Once this is achieved, the next step is to reintroduce a universal student allowance. This will have a major impact on reducing student debt," said Dr Gordon.

For students under the age of 25 student allowances are means tested on the basis of the combined income of their parents. Since this regime was introduced in 1992 parental income thresholds have never been adjusted for inflation. The Ministry of Social Development estimates that if student allowance thresholds were adjusted for 10 years of inflation, 12,000 more students would receive a student allowance.

"The reintroduction of a universal student allowance is at heart an issue of social justice. No other sector of society is forced to borrow to pay their rent and food. The era of taking out loans for living cost simply must end," said Dr Gordon.

While she conceded that a universal student allowance would be expensive she said that this had not stopped governments from remedying blatant social injustices in the past.

"New Zealanders made it clear that they wanted an end to the superannuation surtax and even a centre-right Government relented on that one. I encourage all New Zealanders to take a close look at the issues identified by the NZUSA campaign and I believe that they will come to the conclusion that a universal student allowance is the only fair way to go," said Dr Gordon.

Ends


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