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Student Loan Scheme An Absurdity

MEDIA RELEASE

Monday 31 January 2005

Student Loan Scheme An Absurdity

''Government expects our children to pay for our retirement, but saddles them with a growing burden of debt before they start.''

John Pemberton, a senior candidate for the Democrats, deplores the fact that the Government still treats education as a commodity, rather than an investment in the country’s future. The nation’s youth is forced to “purchase” higher education, taking on debt burdens that will cripple not just their futures, but the future prosperity of all New Zealanders.

“If we parents proposed to charge our children for the cost of the first 18 years of their education and support, it would be considered an absurdity,” said Mr. Pemberton. “The student loan scheme is no less absurd. Our young people are shackled with debt, then expected to keep our national super scheme afloat.

“There has been a good deal of hand-wringing in Government and media circles about how we will pay for superannuation when the baby-boomers retire. The lower birth rate means fewer people paying taxes, so what do we do? Load them down with debt before they even get their first pay check.

“An increasing proportion of a student’s loan is borrowed simply to live. It’s time the Government gave students a basic living allowance while they study,” said Mr. Pemberton.

He also called for an immediate, unconditional removal of interest on all student debt, as a necessary step towards abolishing the scheme altogether.

“New Zealand must go back to providing a fully funded education system. We’ve got to stop short-changing our children.”

ENDS

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