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Govt Breaks Its Promise To Consult With Students

8 May 2002

Government Breaks Its Promise To Consult With Students

In January this year Steve Maharey assured students that they would be consulted on possible changes to the Student Loan Scheme. “By sending a set of proposals to Cabinet without consulting with students and other stakeholders first, he is breaking that promise,” according to Julie Pettett, President of the Aotearoa Tertiary Students’ Association (ATSA).

“By his actions he has treated the real concerns of the New Zealand public with arrogant indifference,” said Pettett. “Although the proposals are shrouded in secrecy, we are aware that they contain suggestions which could have major implications for tens of thousands of students. What has been publicly drip fed to us, such as a private loan scheme and a graduate contribution package, involve more than just minor changes to assisting students.”

“New Zealand students and their families cannot afford yet another loan scheme foisted on them without real analysis of its long term implications,” Pettett stated. “New Zealanders must not allow a repeat of the major problems and inequities that have flowed from the current Student Loan Scheme. The only way to reduce the chances of that happening is for real consultation with the people most affected, students and their families.”

Steve Maharey has asked students to wait and see the full package before ‘denouncing any of the individual ideas’. “If these proposed changes are so good why is the government not allowing us to see them before they go to Cabinet?” Pettett asked. “ATSA believes that this will be too late. This action is being sold as being what students want and have been demanding. This is untrue,” stated Pettett. “We have not been given any real opportunity to comment to date. We may not be given one in the future.”

ATSA calls on Steve Maharey to honour his promise. ATSA acted in good faith when he promised consultation, and we expect him to ‘open the books’ and give students a chance to comment on his proposals before they are offered to his Cabinet colleagues for sign off.

ENDS

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