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Slashing Maori graduates' debt benefits economy

6 December 2004
Hon Matt Robson MP, Progressive Deputy Leader

Slashing Maori graduates' debt would benefit economy

The Progressive Party's policy to slash tertiary graduates' debt, in return for graduates working in New Zealand, would benefit the whole economy, Progressive MP Matt Robson told Te Mana Akonga National Maori Tertiary Students' Association today.

"Since the 1990s, governments in New Zealand started to run surpluses, but they do so at the expense of transferring increasing levels of debt to private households so that New Zealand's overall indebtedness continues to expand which is reflected ongoing current account deficit with the rest of the world.

"Progressive believes that it is in the national economic and social interest to invest more, not less, in education and training of our future workforce. That is a key ingredient of our efforts to further enhancing the productivity of our workforce which is a step needed to put New Zealand in a stronger position to pay for its way in the world and reverse the red ink in our current account," Matt Robson said.

"Maori have the highest participation rate in tertiary education in New Zealand, but it is also true that a higher proportion of Maori are studying in subjects which end up paying salaries which are, on average, less than the national average of salaries for all graduates.

"So it appears that Maori graduates may take longer than average to pay-down their student debt.

"Progressive wants our next coalition agreement with Labour to include a government commitment to take practical steps to reduce graduate debt levels in return for graduates working in New Zealand. Our party advocates for policies that lower student fees, increase financial support for students and slash graduates' debt because we believe that all moves toward free education are positive for both people and the economy," Matt Robson said.

ENDS

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