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Action Needed to Aid Indebted Dentists

11 July 2002 Press release

Alliance: Action Needed to Aid Indebted Dentists

Alliance Education Spokesperson Liz Gordon said today that as part of the Government the Alliance never agreed to appeal the High Court decision concerning dental subsidy cuts over the 1990s.

"This should be resolved as a policy issue instead of being dragged through the courts," said Dr Gordon.

"The decision of the previous Minister of Education, Dr Lockwood-Smith to unilaterally cut dental student funding in 1994 was an appalling act of injustice. The High Court Justice Goddard described this decision as "so erroneous that it could only be categorised as irrational".

Liz Gordon said she was really pleased that the reversal of this decision was one of the first acts of the Labour-Alliance Government.

"However, because of student loans, the historical injustice is not going to go away. The fact is that the Alliance is the only party that is prepared to address the appalling injustices created by the student loan scheme.

"The current debt burden needs to be lightened by immediately removing all interest payments. The Alliance strongly believes that outstanding debt should be written off. If in government, the Alliance will examine the best way to do this. Our principle will be that existing debt should be written off as quickly as possible to remove the incentive for young New Zealanders to go overseas and to eliminate the social and economic impacts of this debt," said Dr Gordon.

Liz Gordon said that the plight of the dental students who studied between 1995 and 1999 would be considered as part of a public consultation process that would be set up to look at ways in which existing student loan debt could be written off.


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