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Shirley Denies ODT Student Debt Claim

ACT Deputy Leader Ken Shirley said he had not spoken to any Otago Daily Times reporter regarding the recovery of student loan debt and had not discussed the matter with Sir William Birch as claimed by the Otago Daily Times today.

"A reporter from this paper was advised by my office that Sir William Birch had phoned me to inform me that the Trans Tasman Prime Ministerial task force had resolved a number of issues and various reciprocal arrangements with Australia regarding benefits would be announced the following day," Mr Shirley said.

"Contrary to the Otago Daily Times' claim, student loan debt recovery was not discussed in that conversation. While it is logical that reciprocal arrangements with other countries would in time include student loans, I have made no indication that there is any formal work or discussion taking place on this matter.

"I will seek an apology from the Otago Daily Times for its incorrect reporting. "For the record, the ACT party believes the important issue here is why the students are going overseas in the first place.

"They are leaving New Zealand because this government has failed to provide the kind of economy that can employ graduates," Mr Shirley said.

"Over the last decade this government has passed a series of laws that have wrapped businesses up in red tape and compliance costs. It's become too expensive and too much hassle for companies to hire more staff. That's why graduates can't find jobs here.

"The government should first concentrate getting the economy right so there are jobs for graduates, before getting into punitive arrangements to penalise young New Zealanders further."

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