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Maori Party Supports NZUSA

14 September 2005

Maori Party Supports NZUSA

With student debt today hitting $8 billion, the Maori Party stands in full support of the appeal by the New Zealand University Students’ Association and Te Mana Akonga for voters to elect parties based on their willingness to address the drivers of student debt.

“Basically from the time we established as a Party we’ve been supporting the call to address the drivers of student debt”, said Dr. Pita Sharples, Co-Leader of the Maori Party. “In fact, our student loans, fees and allowances policy was the Party’s very first policy announcement, back at the Te Mana Akonga Maori Student Debt Summit in December last year”.

The Maori Party believes a zero-fees policy should apply for all tertiary education given it’s a front-end investment in the nation’s future. The Party is also calling for eligibility to allowances to be widened to include all students. Together these policies would cost around $1.5 billion per year. Current student debt would be repaid after a 5 year grace period and only when graduates earn 1.5 times the average wage. All interest payments would be waived.

“Labour’s promise to waive interest payments is a step in the right direction, but it totally misses the mark in dealing with the crux of the issue which is the accumulation of debt in the first place”, explained Dr. Sharples. “They’ve been extremely remiss in ignoring the source of the crisis”.

“When Parliament reconvenes the Maori Party will be pushing hard to get positive policy changes made in this area for students, graduates and whanau. Increasing access to student allowances is the most immediate priority”.

“The Maori Party urges voters to consider the importance of tertiary education to the future of their whanau, tamariki and mokopuna. Cast your vote for a party that will ‘walk the talk’ and stand up for your right to an education without lifelong debt. Vote Maori Party!”

ENDS


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