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Follow your friends, not John Howard

9 March 2005

Follow your friends, not John Howard, on student fees

Labour should be following its ideological friends on student fees, rather than boasting about doing better than Australia, the Greens say.

“Trevor Mallard this afternoon skited about fees being lower here than in Australia,” Green Tertiary Education Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos said. “What about the rest of the world?

“The reality is that student fees in New Zealand are far too high. If Labour is serious about making international comparisons, it should look at how the tuition fees Kiwi students pay compare with those paid by students in Ireland, Sweden, and Norway.

“These are three countries whose governments the Prime Minister has praised effusively. They are also three countries that guarantee free education, charging no tuition fees.

“For example, Helen Clark said on Monday that Norway was a country with which the Government agreed on ‘almost everything – except whaling’. Given this statement, when does Labour intend to follow the Norwegian path on tertiary education and announce a timeline for the phasing out of fees?”

Nandor said the Greens advocated capping fees immediately at $1,500, and setting a timetable to phase them out altogether.

“The fact that there are highly educated countries with very high standards of living that offer free education – including Ireland, France, Sweden, and Norway – disproves the Government’s argument that much lower tuition fees are unaffordable.

“Rather than offering band-aid solutions, the Government should be offering proposals which seek to significantly reduce the tuition fees it charges New Zealand students.”


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