The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

ah but who would really solve it?

DPF is complaining about Labour not actually increasing the number of students receiving an allowance, in response to the excellent digging by Keith Ng. Frogblog has also jumped into the pond with criticism of Labour by the Greens.

Jordan has responded on his blog in fashion, defending Mallard and Labour, but has made a better point in comments to DPF:

"And the chances of your party doing that are.... what.... approaching zero?
("that" being removing the allowance age means testing)"

Yes there is a problem, yes it looks like Labour has not delivered on its promise (nor on the perennial internal remits demanding a universal student allowance that I am sure many of its members would like to see implemented).

But who would deliver a universal student allowance? Who would deal to the injustice of students being considered children until the unjustifiably old age of 25, and thus being the only Kiwis who have no Government safety net?

Not the party David Farrar supports, that's for sure. And probably not Labour either, truth be known (and contrary to Greg Stephen's hopes).

What it is going to take is either:
a) extreme and organised activism from a large portion of the Labour membership
b) a coalition partner for Labour who will push and push and push, and have the numbers to wield some power

That coalition partner is realistically going to have to be the Greens or another Left party of the future (eg a resurgent Alliance). I'm not sure that the Green membership is going to be prepared to put in the spade work for a universal allowance ahead of other issues, in particular GE or energy.

New Zealand First has also flirted with a universal student allowance in the past (don't know if their policy has been reconfirmed for this election yet). But I think Brian Donnelly is still bitter that students didn't vote for them in droves back in the mid 90s (does anyone vote for NZF in droves beyond the elderly and those differently-abled in terms of racial tolerance?) so it won't be a priority. Plus I still remember listening to the Budget Winston delivered when he put in place a "universal student allowance" which was actually just a renaming of the EFTS funding and not a bean went to actual students. The bastard - he got my hopes up and then dashed them again, all in one sentence (albeit a very long one).

So all in all it's a bit disingenuous for the right to complain when they would do much worse in terms of student support. I know that DPF supports a lowering of the age of parental means testing himself, but his party definitely does not support any improvements for allowances.


Bren said...

The Otago University magazine Critic had a quick interview with Winston Peters in their latest issue here

He says that the Universal allowance is still New Zealand First policy.

span said...

thanks for the tipoff bren - it might be still policy but is it a priority for any coalition? i seem to recall three fingers in the air in 2002 none of which was pointed in the direction of tertiary ed...

Kakariki said...

I wouldn't write off the Greens that easily. They have a staunch policy and are doing serious campaigning on the issue. There is a lot of support within the party and caucus to make student allowances a negotiating point in any potential coalition deal too.

Think you'll hear more on this soon...

Greg Stephens said...

Let me live in hope!!!