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More Debt For Students

Thursday, 17 February 2005

Dunne: Govt slams another $10,000 a year in debt on to thousands of students

The Government has just dumped an extra $10,000 a year on to the loans of more than 6000 students, United Future leader Peter Dunne revealed in Parliament today.

That is the impact of changes to the Independent Circumstances Allowance this year that mean students who had supported themselves for 96 weeks will not now get the allowance, unless their parents' income meets certain criteria, he said.

"So these young people who have taken responsibility and supported themselves, are now being told they're effectively kids again and mum and dad's income needs to be assessed.

"And why? Supposedly in the interests of fairness, the Government is penalising these 6200 students who took part-time work and would have been due for the allowance, so that it doesn't discriminate against those who didn't.

"That's not fairness; it's a sick joke," Mr Dunne said, in slamming the changes as part of Labour's "unjust" approach to student support.

"And the result of this rubbish? Today's story of Dunedin students being paid to take part in drug trials. Is that how the Government wants student to keep their debt levels down? Because I can tell you now, parents want better than that for their sons and daughters," he said.

In Parliament today, Mr Dunne slammed Tertiary Education Minister Trevor Mallard for answers to United Future education spokesman Bernie Ogilvy last week, when he said that if students now didn't qualify for the allowance, they could put it on their student loan.

"Proof - as if any were needed - that the Government simply doesn't give a damn about how much debt it piles on young shoulders.

"It is a lack of compassion for the individual and a lack of foresight for the sheer damage this is doing to New Zealand's prospects in the long term when our brightest and best head overseas because they can't afford to buy homes and have to delay starting families because they face mountains of debt," Mr Dunne said.

"Frankly, Trevor Mallard's flippant response encapsulates the Government's view on this matter.

"Students deserve better than that," he said.

ENDS

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