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Another milestone for Generation Debt

Another milestone for Generation Debt

New Zealanders should be outraged that the future of an entire generation of students has been saddled with a debt of $7 billion, Green Party Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.

At about midday today (April 28), the total owed by New Zealanders in the student loan scheme is set to surpass $7 billion and continue to climb at almost $1 billion every year. Ms Fitzsimons said student debt could no longer be considered just a student problem.

"A generation of New Zealanders have been saddled with a $7 billion debt on their future," said Ms Fitzsimons. "Absurdly, this is recorded as an asset in the Government accounts and contributes to the Government's 'net worth'!

"Combined with regular income tax, borrowers will pay more than 40 per cent of their income for an average of 20 years. Any thoughts of retirement savings, buying a house or starting a family must wait, and wait. All New Zealanders suffer the results of this - it's about time we all realised it."

Ms Fitzsimons said that the cost of the Government's dogged pursuit of fat budget surpluses was an out-of-control student debt.

"It's insulting that the Government sat on a $4 billion surplus while showing no interest in alleviating the hardship faced by students. Instead of investing in an innovative and skilled society we are forcing many of our best and brightest overseas.

"A universal student allowance is well-overdue but the budget proposal to ease access a little is expected to be just crumbs."

Ms Fitzsimons urged the Government to consider introducing Green Party initiatives to reduce student debt. These included the introduction of a universal student allowance, a phasing out of student fees and a debt repayment scheme that rewards New Zealanders for staying and contributing to the community.

Green Party Co-leader Rod Donald will be receiving a nationwide petition organised by the NZUSA this Tuesday, May 4, on the front steps of Parliament. Mr Donald will then be presenting the petition to the House of Representatives.

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