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

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

a good news day

Yesterday of course - wohoo for getting rid of the interest on student loans!!

Lots has been said elsewhere about this, particularly on No Right Turn, but I just wanted to point out that this is a victory for the thousands of student activists (and those outside tertiary education) who have kept on the pressure for years and years. A big bouquet to NZUSA, who have driven up the issue of loan debt for this election and have been chipping away at Labour's immovability for over a decade. It must be Party Central in that odd little office above the shoe store :-)

And yes this probably wouldn't have happened if Labour weren't behind in the polls, two months out from an election. Mallard and Maharey have both repeatedly said they don't think there is really anything wrong with the loans scheme, but this policy is just the kind of "vision thing" that will hopefully be a circuit breaker for the campaign. They are doing the right thing for once, so I'm not going to knock them because their reasons are pragmatic rather than ideological.

I reckon Labour needs two more similar announcements - big policies that will have tangible benefits for large chunks of NZers, and all the better if they redress an unfairness.

Let's hope they already have them in the pipeline, because if National gets in we can be sure there will be market interest on student loans, not to mention all those nasty things they want to do in education and industrial relations...


stef said...

I don't get shit as I'm overseas. Not particuarly happy about it.

span said...

i don't agree with the stay in NZ component either - i'm sick of this whole idea that people who leave (whether permanently or temporarily) are some how shirkers.

But i'm still really happy about this as a first step - i know too many people here who's lives it is honestly going to change, and i'm stoked that after ten years (for me, many more for others) of campaigning for serious change something of this magnitude has finally happened.

here's hoping if there is enough Left of Labour vote in the house there will be some changes coming that will help you directly too :-)

stef said...

The thing I don't get is why the money isn't going into allowances or further lowering fees. This is just cementing the loans scheme. Unless we've basically accepted that loans are an IOU that aren't actually going get paid back and those with a student loan are basically getting stuck with.

Anyway the news traveled fast. A couple of kiwis I know here were really happy about it until they realised it didn't help them. Considering the fact that most of the kiwis I know over here are student loans refugees they aren't over the moon.

span said...

see i might be a bit optimistic, but i see this announcement as signalling a fundamental sea change in the way that Labour is viewing the scheme - they may have done it for political advantage rather than ideology, but it's going to be awfully hard to turn back, and what it means is that the Loan Scheme is going to be about enabling people to access education, as a public good, rather than making money off them. it's going to start the shift from the asset side of the register in the Govt books, hopefully.

even if we got free education tomorrow there would be a whole heap of people out there, like yourself, with hefty loans. it's been the elephant in the corner of the room, and this is finally a small step towards making it loose some weight.

the string that it is residents only is unfair, there is no doubt in my mind about that. unfortunately i can't see that changing either, with the current climate of seeing those who leave as somehow abandoning NZ. many kiwis will still go on OEs, but this might make some of them try to pay off their loans first i guess. and at least now we can all put the pressure on about the unfairness of that - start putting together stories of people like yourself, for whom it is an injustice.

and in terms of everyone borrowing more and not paying it back above the compulsory repayments - a lot of the people with loans that i know, (the ones who aren't very political) are all still planning to pay off their loans quicksmart to get that 10c in the dollar back in their incomes again.

stef said...

My loan is almost gone thanks to Korea.

Going for the no interest policy is saying that borrowing for stuff you can't afford is a good thing. Saving for your teritary education and early repayments aren't a good thing. I think if the government was serious about reducing re-payment times it would go for a dollar for dollar scheme on voluntary repayments.

But like I said the problem needs to be addressed at the top of the cliff by ensuring that people aren't going into debt through better access to allowances, lower fees and access to allowances.

gpjwatson said...

You always were one of the most sensible members of labour Stef, you're right on to it here.

A pity that many of your compatriots are looking at it purely from a pork barrel politcs perspective.

Anonymous said...

That's it Graham, just recycle Bill English's words.

gpjwatson said...

Mr English is obviously quite astute on this matter if indeed as you imply he concurs.