INDEPENDENT NEWS

Dunne: Govt not facing student debt debacle

Published: Tue 13 Jan 2004 10:48 AM
Dunne: Govt not facing student debt debacle
- time to look at bonding, parental savings schemes
The 2000 New Zealand doctors who have left the country in the past five years have done so in a huge number of cases because of this country’s seriously flawed student loan scheme, United Future leader Peter Dunne said today in proposing parental savings schemes with government contributions, and employment bonding.
“This country cannot continue to sit on its hands and watch the debt burden on our young people grow billion by billion,” Mr Dunne said.
“As it does so, it crushes dreams and aspirations, from home-buying to when they can afford to start to raise the families that New Zealand needs for its future.
“And it is very clear that this Government does not want to face this issue.
“Blanket denials and fatuous comparisons with other countries from Trevor Mallard on the doctor issue just don’t wash. Student debt is doing enormous damage to the future of this country and needs to be looked at,” Mr Dunne said.
“Today the headlines are all about doctors, but away from those headlines there are other young New Zealanders who are loaded down with debt before they even set out in life,” he said.
One of the most immediate steps the Government could take is some form of bonding in key professions, Mr Dunne said
“Essentially, along the lines of working off accrued student debt by working in New Zealand for a set number of years after graduation. It would help keep talented and able, contributing young New Zealanders here, and benefit them.
“And in the current saga over doctors, the irony is that Australia is facing precisely the same issue of retaining its professionals.
“In the longer term, we need to take a more creative approach.
“Rather than have young New Zealanders mortgaging their futures, a voluntary scheme where parents, with government contributions, could begin small savings schemes upon the birth of a child, would make far more sense, and be of far greater benefit to the country.
“And the long term is something governments have not been good at addressing. The fall-out from student loans is proof of that,” Mr Dunne said.

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