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Students aren't like you, Mr Key

14 September 2005

Students aren't like you, Mr Key

In protesting about the potential cost of interest-free student loans, National is wrongly assuming that young Kiwis will act like property speculators in a vain effort to mimic John Key, the Green Party says.

"John Key may have made his millions by taking punts on the property market, but there's no reason to believe that students will follow suit," Green Tertiary Education Spokesperson says. "The National Party may see John Key as a hero, but Kiwi students don't.

"National is saying that if you offer students interest-free loans, they'll all borrow the maximum amount, in an effort to make a profit off the state. This assertion is completely out-of-step with reality. The vast majority of students borrow money because to pay for their courses and to make ends meet.

"When Labour and the Greens made student loans interest-free for the period of study in 1999, National predicted that all students would rush out and get loans, yet the pick-up rate barely moved. This proves that National is simply bluffing and blustering because it knows that the Labour/Green team are on to a winner with this policy.

"The initial Treasury costings are bade on the idea that 95% of students would take-up interest-free loans. Anyone will even a basic understanding of the loan scheme and student behaviour knows that these are simply ridiculous assumptions to make. That National is clutching desperately to these initial costings shows how little it understands students."

Nandor said that if National wanted to quibble about figures, then it had a lot of explaining to do.

"National plans to spend all petrol tax on roads. This means the $255 million a year currently spent on public transport will either have to be axed, or found from cutting back on other government programmes. National plans to borrow for its tax cuts for the rich. This extra borrowing will cost half a billion dollars in just over a decade. Where will this money come from? Which hospitals will be closed? Which teachers will be fired?

"If National wants to have an argument about figures, then it will soon become clear to Kiwis that its tax cuts only add up if government spending is cut and government borrowing increases. Both options are frightening."

Only a Green-Labour Government would tackle the root causes of student debt.

"Instead of trying to deflect attention from a policy that students love, National should be offering real solutions to the key drivers of student debt. Only the Greens have a comprehensive policy programme to knock student debt on its head: a universal student allowance, reduced tuition fees and a debt write-off scheme."


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