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Fat surplus no comfort for lean students

30 January, 2004

Fat surplus no comfort for lean students

The Government's operating surplus of $4 billion is an insult for the thousands of tertiary students who lined up at foodbanks or applied for hardship assistance, Green MP Nandor Tanczos said today.

Speaking at a 'Cardboard City' student protest at parliament today, Nandor, the Green Tertiary Education spokesperson, called on tertiary minister Steve Maharey to immediately reintroduce the Emergency Unemployment Benefit for students.

"Another summer has passed with students being left out in the cold by this Government," said Nandor. "It's time for it to stop hoarding billions of dollars and start investing in the young people and future of Aotearoa.

"It is an indictment of this government that foodbanks are becoming as important to New Zealand students as books.

"With student debt set to top $7 billion this year, what better way to invest in the future sustainability of New Zealand than to relieve our young people of the burden of debt before they even start their careers?" he asked.

Nandor questioned the government's commitment to student support, despite a comprehensive 'review' last year, as a number of anomalies remain in place to deny students their entitlements.

"The reality is that a raft of hurdles introduced by the National Party of the 1990s have remained unchanged, hurdles that Mr Maharey denounced when he was in opposition.

"If a universal student allowance and reintroducing the Emergency Unemployment Benefit for students without summer work is too much to swallow, there are a number of steps he could still take. Remove the arbitrary and anomalous age restrictions and inflation adjust parental income thresholds.

"It's at least a start - which is something this government has forgotten about in its pursuit of fat surpluses," said Nandor.

ENDS

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