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Stay in NZ and work government will pay your debt

Stay in New Zealand and work - government will pay your debt

Reducing student debt will be a top priority for the Progressive Party in a new government, and it will be a main theme of this year’s election, Progressive Party president Matt Robson said.

He said the Progressives would make the issue a priority, in the same way the party has previously won Kiwibank, four weeks paid annual leave for all workers, and a $700 million investment in science and innovation this year.

Releasing the policy at an NZUSA political parties forum, Matt Robson said it’s the role of smaller parties to take on issues and push them up the agenda.

“Instead of imposing a lifetime of student debt, we would say to students this: If you are prepared to stay and work in New Zealand after you graduate, we will reduce your debt.

“If they wanted to go overseas, they could go and take their student loan with them, as they do now.

“It's an idea we have tried successfully in New Zealand in the past. Teachers used to be paid to go to Teachers' College, and then they would have to work in a country area for two years. The arrangement helped ensure we had enough teachers in country schools and it made teaching a more attractive profession.

“Not something for nothing, but something valuable in exchange for your service. We would help to keep our best and brightest here at home.

“The policy is one of the best ways we can use the government's operating surplus. At the moment, the government’s surplus gets bigger is the student debt gets bigger. The accounts work as if the debt was going to be repaid - but a lot of it isn't. The total debt is now up to $28 billion, while we don't have any net public debt at all.

“We could do something different. We could simply reduce that so-called “asset” by writing off some of the student loan for each year students stay and work for New Zealand. The government surplus would be lower. There would be little inflationary impact, and none at all in the short term.

“You would create a fairer and more caring country. You would create a stronger country.”


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