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Budget 2005: Nothing for Maori

Budget 2005: Nothing for Maori

Continuing the 2004 government trend of ignoring Maori interests in order to capture the vote of ‘middle’ New Zealand, the 2005 Budget offers nothing particular for Maori.

“Minister Horomia basically said nothing at the Social Sector Budget Lock-up – primarily because there was basically nothing to announce for Maori”, said Dr. Helen Potter, Kaituhono of Te Mana Akonga. “Government rhetoric about Maori development and leadership strategies is totally empty if there isn’t funding to back it up”.

The only targeted Maori spending is for the provision of liaison services and community workers to, amongst other things, encourage Maori into tertiary education.

“While tertiary education is hugely important to many Maori, enrolling in tertiary education also means the accumulation of a massive student debt”, said Dr Potter. “It’s totally negligent to boost funding to steer more whanau towards tertiary education without also making it significantly more affordable”.

Today’s budget announcements outlined that a very small percentage of students will be better off through a scholarship scheme and by raising the income that students can earn and still receive an allowance. Changes to student allowances that will minimally widen accessibility were also announced.

“We’re disappointed that the government hasn’t done more to increase eligibility to student allowances. We’re also disappointed that they’ve still done nothing to address the massive level of existing student debt”, said Dr. Potter. “It’s all smoke and mirrors”.

Minister Mallard advised that more announcements will be made near the end of June which will see funding shift from low quality/relevance courses to high quality/relevance courses.

“Te Mana Akonga is very interested in these announcements given the early warning signals that funding of te reo Maori courses will be drastically cut. The government seems committed to removing anything positive for Maori least it be termed privilege”, concluded Dr. Potter.

ENDS

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