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Nats tinker with student loans

Labour
2000 web siteLabour Leader Helen Clark said today that the National Party would have been better to leave its flawed student policy alone rather than tinker with it in the heat of the election campaign in a way which scarcely left students better off at all.

"The National Party is making itself an object of ridicule. It is on the back foot on student debt. Yet unless it is prepared to make a significant policy change, it would be better to stop pretending that it is responding to students' and families' concerns.

"On Mr Bradford's own calculations, his tinkering today would leave a student who has borrowed the average amount over four years scarcely $400 better off overall.

"If this is a bribe, it is pathetically small one.

"Labour's policy recognises that a student loan is unlike most other loans which people take out. When people borrow, for example, to buy a house, the bank wants to know that they have an income stream that can begin servicing that loan immediately.

"The difference from the student loan could not be more stark. Students borrow because they do not have an income stream. It is therefore absurd to expect them to service their loan in the absence of an income stream other than a loan.

"Labour has faced up to the real issue and agreed to wipe the interest on the loans while full-time and other low income students are studying. We have also recognised the need for easier repayment terms.

"It is little wonder that National delayed its silly and trivial announcement until after university classes had ceased and students had dispersed for the study break. Their announcement will be greeted with derision throughout the country," Helen Clark said.

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