National has been considering the privatisation of public tertiary education institutions for several years according to
discussion papers and reports by consultants released to the Labour Party under the Official Information Act.
Labour associate education spokesperson (tertiary) Steve Maharey said that the information confirmed his worst fears.
"Labour has been saying all along that the Government wants a commercialised tertiary education system. We did not think
they would go as far as privatisation, but now we know that selling tertiary institutions has been on the agenda.
"As early as 1991 the Tertiary Review Group was reporting on privatisation models. In 1994 Cabinet considered a paper
arguing for divestment of tertiary institutions. In 1995 Cabinet was asking for practical details as to how
privatisation could take place."
Mr Maharey said that protestations by Minister of Tertiary Education, Max Bradford, that the papers were outdated and
just an option, were not credible.
"The Government has obviously been considering privatisation seriously for many years and spent considerable money on
consultants. More recently its green and white papers on tertiary education have favoured policies of commercialisation
and eventual privatisation.
"This means that if a National/ACT coalition is re-elected privatisation will be on the agenda. Indeed with a free
marketeer like Max Bradford in charge privatisation is likely to be compulsory."
Mr Maharey said today that privatisation of tertiary institutions would be nothing more than sabotage.
"Our tertiary education system is one of the keys to New Zealand building a knowledge based economy and society. In
private hands our institutions will do the bidding of private owners. They will not get involved in the education and
research New Zealand needs to secure its future.
"I want to make it clear to anyone who cares about education and the future of New Zealand that Labour would not waste a
single cent on looking at the privatisation option. I am outraged that National would even consider selling tertiary
"Anyone who cares about the future of our nation knows that Labour must be the Government after the next election,"
Steve Maharey said.