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Government banks on nurses goodwill far too long

19 November, 2003

Government banks on nurses goodwill far too long

The Government must reconsider the effects of the student loans scheme on nurses if it believes nurses should be valued in New Zealand, Green MP Nandor Tanczos said today.

In supporting the Nurses petition presented to Parliament today Nandor, the Green Tertiary Education spokesperson, drew attention to the recent report authored by NZUSA and the New Zealand Nurses Organisation on the effects of the student loans scheme on nurses.

"Graduate nurses are hit particularly hard by the loans scheme," said Nandor.

"The Greens fully support the nurses in their efforts to improve their pay and urge the Government to pay nurses what they are worth. How can the Government make nursing an attractive career when graduate nurses face such a poor quality of life from the outset?

"Forty-five per cent of the nurses who responded to the survey have children. Losing 10 per cent from the meagre starting salary of $29,000 to student loan repayments can cause real hardship. Many say they'd be better off on a benefit."

Nandor said if the Government refuses to scrap the student loans scheme and restoring student allowances then it could at least relax the threshold at which loan repayments are made.

"The repayment threshold is far too low at under $16,000. In comparison, Australian graduates begin repayments when their salary reaches the average wage, about $25,000 per year.

"In addition, the flat rate of ten per cent disadvantages those who start in low paying jobs. The repayment rate should be tiered with some exemptions for individual circumstances.

"For solo parents who begin their career on a low salary, 10 per cent is the difference between living above or below the poverty line.


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