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Gerry In The House: Nat's plan for student loans

22 July 2005

Gerry In The House
Nationals plan for student loans
Gerry Brownlee, MP

Yesterday, in the great city of Christchurch, Don Brash announced National's student loan policy which will see the introduction of measures to ease the repayment burden on those with student loans by making the interest payments on student debt tax deductible.

National intends to encourage excellence and to assist the investment in advanced skills and knowledge. We want to ensure that New Zealand remains the first choice for talented young New Zealanders to choose to work and live. We must provide better incentives for our people to build their future in this country.

National will make all net interest payments on student loans tax deductible against earned income. This policy will take effect on 1 April next year and will have an initial annual cost of around $70 million.

The deduction will be made automatically by the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) and will require no extra work or form-filling for borrowers. The IRD will credit the tax deduction on interest actually paid to the student loan account of the borrower. It will be automatically directed to lowering the loan balance, therefore accelerating the repayment of the loan.

This measure will facilitate a more rapid repayment of student loans by working New Zealanders. This initiative is both fair and principled. Young workers who borrow for the purpose of setting themselves up in their trade or business are able to deduct the cost of interest from their taxable income. Students who borrow to invest in knowledge should be treated the same way.

This package will ensure that student debt is not a barrier to investing in skills and knowledge, nor an incentive to leave this country. You can read more about our student loan policy at www.national.org.nz

Mallard's muck shows Labour's panic

Trevor Mallard got down in the mud and started throwing it at Dr Brash yesterday once he realised that our student loan policy was a winner. But all he could come up with was that the National Party was funded and run by the Americans. This should be seen for what it is - a load of rubbish. Mallard needs to put up or shut up.

This sort of desperate and panicked spin has been coming out of the Labour Party ever since Helen Clark had dinner with Alistair Campbell. The so-called US connection is a beat up that rivals the Tana Umanga spear tackle allegations.

It is absolute and total rubbish to suggest that our policies are written by anyone other than New Zealand National Party politicians. I can assure the public our policies are home-grown with the best interests of all New Zealanders in mind.

We should see Mallard's out burst for what it is - desperate spin by a party that has panicked over a series of bad poll results. What New Zealanders want to see is a debate on the real issues, rather than the gutter politics that Mallard has come out with in the past few days.

What we have seen from Labour during this Parliamentary recess has been uninspiring to say the least. They have spent the past four weeks rehashing old and tired policies, many from May's Budget flop.

During this recess, on the other hand, National MPs have been travelling the length and breadth of the country debating the real issues with mainstream New Zealanders.

The past few weeks have also seen a number of significant policy releases that will make a real difference to the lives of all New Zealanders. And there is plenty more to come in the next week. Watch out for the remainder of our Tertiary Education package, Resource Management, and Local Government. We intend to outline, debate and vigorously promote policies that will deliver a better future for our country. None of the desperate antics and misinformation we have seen from the Labour Party this week is going to steer us off that course.


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