Post-grad allowances

January 30th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Wellington mum Tracy Merson has been forced to abandon her studies just short of a master’s degree – for a possible career as a psychologist – after new student allowance legislation whipped the financial rug out from under her.

As far as I know you don’t need a masters to be a psychologist? Who not start the career with the bachelors and then gain your masters?

Because she is on a domestic purposes benefit, she does not qualify for student loan living costs, and the $172.50 maximum a week would not be enough to support her daughters, aged 12 and 13.

I do wish the story would make clear what the figure refers to. Most would take that as being the DPB is only $172.50 a week . The DPB pays $33.01 a week gross or $293.58 a week net. On top of that you get $157 WFF family tax credit so that is around $450 a week in the hand. There may be accommodation supplement on top of that and it is unclear if one can also get $172.50 student loan on top of all that also.

This is not to say it is challenging to be a post-grad student, especially as a sole parent. But we need to have clear facts on what the financial situation is, to accurately judge the adequacy of policy settings.

UPDATE: I’m told you now need a Masters to practice. It used to be a BA Applied was sufficient, but obviously times change.

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67 Responses to “Post-grad allowances”

  1. Manolo (13,780 comments) says:

    It could be worse: she could be studying Political Science.

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  2. somewhatthoughtful (465 comments) says:

    $450 a week to provide for 3 people while she tries to upskill? That greedy bitch, I hope she doesn’t buy too many maseratis with that, or another house on st stephens….

    Cutting off the student allowance to masters students is just plain dumb, especially for someone like this who has obviously already started the masters thus incurred expense for taxpayers already. Thanks to this genius policy now we’ve payed for some of her fees but we don’t get a masters grad and health worker out of it. Winning.

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  3. Kimble (4,440 comments) says:

    somewhatthoughtful, lets not set a limit at all. Lets allow people to claim the DPB, dole, invalids benefit as well as student allowance. Why not?

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  4. annie (539 comments) says:

    You do need a masters degree to practice, but a clinical psychologist can expect to earn a fairly outstanding income if they are good enough to attract private referrals. A larger-than-usual loan would be appropriate in this instance, given she has kids to support.

    No mention of support from the absent parent – maybe he could cover half of their expenses?

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  5. TheContrarian (1,085 comments) says:

    @Manolo
    I study/have studied political science ;-P

    Education is the best way out of poverty and to get off the DPB. Student allowance and fees are paid back (as far as I am aware – I paid all my papers up front) therefore I think it is counter-productive to kick this woman from allowance. A year more and she could become a working, tax-paying mother. In the long term that’s cheaper.

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  6. Mark (496 comments) says:

    You cant be on the DPB and received a Student Allowance and Student Loan Living Costs.

    This has always been the rule, sounds like someone is telling porkies.

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  7. Andrei (2,657 comments) says:

    Contrarian the best way to avoid poverty and the DPB is not to get on to it in the first place – this relies upon getting married before you have the children and staying married after you have them

    What is wrong with taking adult responsibility for your choices?

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  8. TheContrarian (1,085 comments) says:

    @Andrei – that is fucking stupid.

    What about widows?
    What about if the husband ran off?
    What if you made a mistake in your youth (we all make them)

    Does that therefore mean, sorry champ – nothing for you.

    Fucking stupid

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  9. TheContrarian (1,085 comments) says:

    And Andrei – I said “get OUT of poverty” not “AVOID poverty”

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  10. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    No mention of support from the absent parent – maybe he could cover half of their expenses?

    LOL – if he’s pushing supermarket trolleys somewhere, expect him to stump up about $60 per month if she’s lucky!

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  11. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    DPB with two kids. Dime would bet money she is already getting $600+ a week.

    Am I to believe she was getting the DPB AND another $350 a week on top? WHAT THE F*&K!!!

    Oh the poor thing has racked up a whopping 6 grand student loan! The humanity!!! wah wah wah

    Also, why do all psychology students look like that?

    And lastly, do we really need another 50 year old psychologist? shes always going to vote labour/greens so bad luck.

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  12. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    What is wrong with taking adult responsibility for your choices?

    Sometimes marriage and childbirth turns reasonably acceptable men into disappointing failures.

    “Take adult responsibility” by staying around so he can bash you and/or the child? Really??

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  13. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    RRM – you jest, but these are your chosen people :)

    Vote right. you know you want to

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  14. TheContrarian (1,085 comments) says:

    “And lastly, do we really need another 50 year old psychologist? shes always going to vote labour/greens so bad luck.”

    Dime only wants to help those whom agree with his political leanings

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  15. Andrei (2,657 comments) says:

    @TheContrarian

    Not stupid at all, there are thousands of women on the DPB and hardly any of them are widows, most of them have never been married in the first place, and of those who have and have now separated very few of them have been abandoned, do you know why – because reagrdless of whoever pulls the pin on a realtionship the man who rarely gets custody of the children, remains financially liable for them and is thus in a great many cases reduced to poverty – the incentive for a woman to pull the pin is much higher.

    She can collect the DPB and while getting a degree on the taxpayer and playing the victim card.

    2/3 of students on the campus of our universities are women and a large number of them are on the DPB – this is strange but true

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  16. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    A person on a benefit wants to get off a benefit.

    That person puts in an immense effort to obtain an undergraduate degree while raising two children.

    The taxpayer advances her the money to do so, with a high probability of being reapid that money when the beneficiary transitions to becoming a working professional, at which time the taxpayer benefits by no longer supporting her and her children.

    The nation gains another health professional – a field in which there is a chronic shortage (a psychologist is one of the preferred categories for immigration).

    A situation which would appear to be a win for everyone concerned, and certainly better than the alternative.

    Which is how it would be viewed by anyone but a Minister bereft of vision who benefitted from the very system she’s now intent on demolishing.

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  17. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    Dime – I’m projecting, based on what a loser the father of my wife’s first child is!

    Andrei’s gross generalisation at 3:10pm may have gone from zero to 36 likes in 5 minutes flat (LOL – seems legit :-) ) but he too seems to projecting experiences of his own onto the general population…

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  18. TheContrarian (1,085 comments) says:

    @Rex and RRM – agree with all your points.

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  19. Cunningham (844 comments) says:

    Rex she its a tough call but she is no different to any other student. Why can’t she get a loan? Its interest free for fucks sake! We spend an exorbinant amount of money on student support yet there is this attitude by students that no matter how much you throw at the ungrateful wankers it will never be enough. Yes they will support this country in future with their earnings but just get on with it and stop whinging. What do they want us to do? Worship them because they are studying? I studied to, earn a good living now.

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  20. Weihana (4,537 comments) says:

    What is up with Andrei’s sudden 36 likes? I could have sworn before I refreshed the page it was zero.

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  21. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    its funny how because someone is already on a benefit, they are deemed by some to be more important than students who never went onto a benefit.

    pisses me off.

    in regards to this woman – do we know if she has actually dropped out? i skimmed the poorly written article but got too angry to actually read it.

    RRM – i hear ya! some girls i know have kids to total losers. god knows what they were thinking at the time!

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  22. TheContrarian (1,085 comments) says:

    “2/3 of students on the campus of our universities are women and a large number of them are on the DPB – this is strange but true”

    Got any thing to support that claim? And even true – so fucking what?

    You seem to be suggesting that someone on the DPB should just fucking stay there because it is their fault anyway

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  23. rouppe (971 comments) says:

    I’m confused.

    ‘Standard’ students (i.e. single, no dependants, no income etc) can receive the student allowance. This is to assist with living costs. This lady is already receiving money for living costs – the DPB. So it is reasonable in my mind that she not receive the student allowance as well since that is double dipping.

    She says she’s going to abandon her studies and return to ‘looking for a job’. So obviously she and her two children can survive on the DPB.

    Therefore the crux of the matter is whether she can afford her postgraduate work. Presumably this will consist of course fees, though I’m not sure what else since a thesis is about research and writing, not attending lectures, studying formal texts etc. Her daughters should be in school most of the day so she should be able to schedule formal reviews etc during the school day.

    The student loan is not means tested and continues to be available. She shouldn’t have got the student allowance anyway if she was getting $450 a week income from other sources which includes child support and maintenance payments.

    I don’t get what has been taken away from her?

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  24. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Cunningham (edit: and rouppe) asks:

    Why can’t she get a loan?

    From the story:

    Because she is on a domestic purposes benefit, she does not qualify for student loan

    Nonsensical. Any beneficiary who wants to gain an employable skill to get off a benefit, and who is willing to repay the taxpayer the costs of their education should be able to do so.

    edit: rouppe posits:

    So obviously she and her two children can survive on the DPB.

    Yes, but not meet the upfront costs of continued study which are demanded by a university prior to enrolment. Which is the point of the story.

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  25. Weihana (4,537 comments) says:

    Cunningham (292) Says:
    January 30th, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Rex she its a tough call but she is no different to any other student. Why can’t she get a loan? Its interest free for fucks sake!

    People on the DPB are not entitled to claim living costs for their loan.

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  26. TheContrarian (1,085 comments) says:

    Upfront costs run into $600 – $800 (more for a masters)

    Not easy with two dependents.

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  27. rouppe (971 comments) says:

    @Rex, @TheContrarian

    Which is what the student loan is for. Up front course fees are paid from the student loan direct to the provider. She is eligible for the student loan, it is the student allowance eligibility that has been reviewed.

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  28. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    David Farrar, if her children are over 12 she is required to be available to work full-time.

    She is being transferred to the Work tested benefit. This means she cannot receive welfare while studying full-time. She can only receive the welfare support while available for work.

    She would have been eligible for the student allowance + accomodation supplement + per child benefits if there was still a student allowance for pst grad study.

    Now all she can get is living cost – $30 less a week. Then there is the confusion about access to accom supplement while on living cost – will she qualify (but only) because she has children? Does anyone know what the policy on this is?

    PS she will get loan cover for her course fee costs.

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  29. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    Rex Widerstrom (4,926) Says:
    January 30th, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    You cannot get a student loan to cover living costs for a post-graduate degree anymore.

    She can only get the loan to cover fees, but then has to support herself and her children, whilst studying and pay additional costs involved.

    Masters are damn hard work. To get as far as she has with two children is great.
    What a wonderful role model, and how great to have two children, who thanks to her example will probably be positive members of the community.

    The government’s policy ensures that many people will unable to study beyond a graduate level.
    That will keep the ‘poor’ in their place. Can’t have them improving themselves, and taking our jobs, can we!

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  30. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    It seems Andrei has a lot of instant support for his posts, but then it just …. fades away.

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  31. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    rouppe (572) Says:
    January 30th, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Before this year, the student loan covered a living costs component. So students could add that to their loan. I think the maximum was about $176 per week, however, this year that is no longer available for post-grad students. Even for those half way through a masters.

    I’m sure there will be those that will now have to take their papers on a part-time basis whilst they work. Of course in doing so, they may not then qualify for the student loan for fees. So first they will have to work to get the fees, then they will have to work part-time whilst they are studying part-time to complete their masters. What should have taken one year, could now take 5 or 6 years.

    The message to the student – stay home and collect the benefit. Don’t bother trying – its too hard.

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  32. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    Judith, you can get living costs for post graduate study, but you canot get student allowance for post graduate study anymore.

    People still get fees paid while studying part-time. Some however,no longer get course costs.

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  33. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    Times change

    That’s the excuse we gonna hear from now on. That’s the licence to take more away and replace it with a void.

    Times change.

    Fortunately, Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

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  34. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    Living costs and course fee costs are no longer available for Post Graduate students using the student loan scheme.

    They can only borrow the cost of their fees, providing they have not met their limit of EFTS.

    It is virtually impossible for anyone to get a doctorate if they require a student loan to do it.

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  35. rouppe (971 comments) says:

    Judith

    That’s not how I read the StudyLink information. The reference to post graduate eligibility is clearly in the student allowance section, not the student loan section.

    Presuming she continues to get DPB payments, she should still have access to the loan, even if that is for course costs only, as clearly the DPB supports her living expenses…

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  36. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    Both living costs and course cost claims (up to $1000) are still available for post grad study done full-time.

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  37. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    Here’s an idea, if youre on a benefit and want to do a degree, choose one that will get you a job without needing post grad.

    Dime has a quick lesson for her that she may not have learned at uni – life isnt fair.

    Maybe she will have to wait a few years until her kids have their own kids and can support themselves on our money. she waited this long ti get a degree. a few more years wont hurt.

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  38. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    SPC

    Sorry, yes I checked it out and you are right. I’ve had some of my students tell me otherwise.
    Will have to try and remember who they were, and pass this document on to them.

    That will teach me for not checking first.

    http://www.studylink.govt.nz/documents/brochures/change-to-student-loans-and-allowances-2012.pdf

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  39. Longknives (4,753 comments) says:

    “DPB with two kids. Dime would bet money she is already getting $600+ a week.
    Am I to believe she was getting the DPB AND another $350 a week on top? WHAT THE F*&K!!!
    Oh the poor thing has racked up a whopping 6 grand student loan! The humanity!!! wah wah wah”

    Dime is onto it.
    I bet this ‘poor’ woman also got a laptop etc paid for her no questions asked by WINZ..

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  40. rouppe (971 comments) says:

    Judith

    And that document says that if you have children (as she does) you can continue to receive a student allowance up until Dec 2013. So either she wasn’t getting a student allowance due to her other sources of income, or she wasn’t getting the DPB, or she was double dipping.

    In any case, it appears that the news article is largely, well, wrong

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  41. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    And that document says that if you have children (as she does) you can continue to receive a student allowance up until Dec 2013. So either she wasn’t getting a student allowance due to her other sources of income, or she wasn’t getting the DPB, or she was double dipping.

    Only if you are doing the same course. My understanding is that the second year of this Masters (the thesis) is considered a new course by the university.

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  42. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    Does anyone know what the DPB actually costs us every week?

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  43. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    dime,

    Do you know what the principle of the welfare reforms was? An investment approach to getting people off welfare dependency.

    As her youngest is now over 12 her welfare is now tested to her being available for work full-time.

    She will be paid he will get a benefit + for two children under 18 in her care while not working and looking for work.

    If she does not find work in the area she has studied in because she has not completed the study required, then what work will she find? She has not worked for years and has trained in this one area.

    What would the smart person managing her case say – she needs to get that course finished to get that job that gets her off welfare dependency forever.

    Yet the government has cut off the support to complete the course she began to study to get off welfare.

    What is the point of the governments policy? What is actually happening? There is a hole in the bucket John, a hole.

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  44. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    rouppe, she was not receiving the student allowance in 2012, she was on the DPB.

    And in any case as graeme edgeler points out a new course means it would have made no difference anyway.

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  45. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    “Do you know what the principle of the welfare reforms was? An investment approach to getting people off welfare dependency.”

    Are you saying that out of the goodness of our hearts we help people on the DPB get qualifications to a bachelors degree level?

    gee we are good bastards!

    I dont care about this woman. Shes too old to have any more. she can go fruit picking for the next 6 years.

    What do i always hear? we borrowed 2 billioon for tax cuts?? nup, we borrow 40 million a week for the likes of her. enough is enough.

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  46. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    Oh longknives has the same support network of thumbs as andrei, 19 within 10 minutes. Will this support also .. fade away.

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  47. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    dime, you would rather pay her for another 5 years of welfare and then remain unemployed at the single rate than provide just one more year of support so she can become a high income earner paying taxes?

    Nose … cut off .. spite … your own …. in a mirror. One sick twisted puppy … dime.

    Nartional’s investment approach was supposed to raise the game, but in practice they are failing in this case.

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  48. Paulus (2,627 comments) says:

    Thank God – one less expert woman wimpering whinging Psychcologist.
    Praise the Lord.

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  49. Longknives (4,753 comments) says:

    If WINZ are already paying for her accommodation and living expenses through her generous DPB handout and multiple allowances why the fuck does she need any extra just to drag her lazy baby-factory arse to a lecture or two each week? Or does she study online?
    There are so many questions this bleeding heart ‘journalist’ didn’t ask…

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  50. Peter (1,712 comments) says:

    Drop one of the clinical psychology courses, take basic course in finance instead. Take up clinical psychology again once finance know-how has sunk in.

    But it will mean she’s too knowledgeable to ever vote LabGreen again.

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  51. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    To correct my post earlier, she is not being required to be available for full-time work until her child is 14.

    She would be required to be available for part-time work (15 hours a week) as a condition of the DPB (with children aged 12 and 13).

    It would seem she is now being part-time work tested and there is no exception for those studying full-time – so they must transfer to student allowance while studying full-time. But as a post grad student she does not qualify for student allowance.

    The reason she cannot get the DPB + living cost on the loan is because she is being told she cannot get the DPB if she studies (because it is in breach of her obligation to be available for 15 hours work). The alternative student allowance, available for under-graduates only, includes child benefit and accomodation supplement.

    If this is the case, then it explains why there has been a recent fall in numbers on the DPB. Because those studying full-time (with children between 5 and 13) are being transferred to student allowance.

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  52. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    Peter, she could do other courses part-time and on-line to avoid the transport costs of travel. But what finance skills would enable anyone to support themself and 2 children while only receiving the living cost of $172.50 while studying full-time. That is less than the $293.58 she receives now.

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  53. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    Andrei in his post at 3.10 claims that most of the women on the DPB were never married. I have never seen any evidence for this, would he care to share the information he has on this matter?

    He also claims that most cases of divorce were initiated by the wife, this may be the case, but where is the evidence confirming it?

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  54. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    It seems that Andrei’s 3.10 post numbers were further bumped up around the time longknives thumb approvals were made.

    A school of reef fish that turns in this direction every now and then?

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  55. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    SPC – as I hear from lefties in regards to the hobbit.

    The government shouldnt be picking winners!

    is the degree she has done absolutely useless without the masters? or does it qualify her for work, but not quite the work the entitled lady wants?

    how about, rather than aiming for a public sector job, she gets a job in the totally useless field of HR? then, when the kids are 18 and she can afford it, do her masters then. god forbid she has to do a job she doesnt totally want to do.. i mean 90% of the poor bastards in this world would rather have a different job, but they didnt have kids in NZ.

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  56. Weihana (4,537 comments) says:

    Longknives,

    …lazy…

    Hmmm.. I would’ve thought post graduate study was an an indication of the opposite.

    … baby-factory arse…

    2 children equals a baby factory?

    My sympathy diminishes for people who have an excessive number of children with limited means, but two seems reasonable.

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  57. Weihana (4,537 comments) says:

    dime,

    …how about… she gets a job in the totally useless field of HR?

    Presumably there are plenty of people going for that type of job whereas her qualification is in an area of skill shortage.

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  58. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    dime, the government is continuing to pay her $350 a week (her fIgure) to remain in the DPB and look for work (the work test is 15 hours – part-time and then full-time in 2 years time when the youngest turns 14).

    Any job she gets is one another could be doing – and she is one year from completing training in a field in which we have shortages.

    The governments own investment approach is based on investing to make people work capable and also to get people trained in areas where there are shortages.

    How much would one more year cost – and what would be the higher rate of tax that a trained person would pay?

    Would you accept that in return for her borrowing living cost off the loan $172, the government pay her another $180 a week to make up the short-fall from her current DPB entitlement so she can afford to complete her studies?

    This cuts her tax paid income from $350 (DPB) to $180 a week and yet gets her into a secure better paid job.

    PS oppositon from the left re the film-making is not to picking winners, it is doing so on the terms set by foreigners (who play one country off against another).

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  59. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    PS dime anyone living alone trying to complete post graduate study would have to live on $170 a week living costs. I could not do it, could you?

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  60. jgw739 (26 comments) says:

    Heh. The gross assumption is that if we fund this womans education, she’ll reciprocate by staying in New Zealand.

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  61. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    SPC – yeah, actually i did the hard yards. my student loan was a fuck load more than the 6k she has. also, i actually created a bunch of jobs. will she?

    nup, she will talk to other people in her “situation”. well thats just great.

    she can make it work or do something else. simple.

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  62. Left Right and Centre (2,979 comments) says:

    I’ve read the posts…..

    Here’s my **totally** irrational completely fucked up opinions….

    First off.. I’m not a big fan of the name Tracy. Then… Weihana… she *looks* lazy. Why? Because she’s a fucking Titanic missing an iceberg… that’s why… oooo I’m snowed under with two girls and studying… yeah right…. excuses… yeah right…

    $350 a week? On top of DPB? Oh dear…. no way…. GET STUFFED!!!!!

    Pisses me off some of the high filutin paper qualifications the DPB dreamers go for… you just know that she’s **never**… even with the masters… going to get a job in the field. I don’t mind seeing that a DPB mother is studying something like nursing… they’ll get a job with that qualification… but you know that a lot of these wankers won’t get a job with the crap they’re doing….

    12 and 13 year old girls. Yep… that’s full-time parenting required there. That’s a fulltime job. They need your attention 24/7 like a hand and foot servant. Yeah right. Wiping their arse all day long… I don’t know where I find the time to work on my thesis. She’s not working at all, yeah? So… it’s the girls…. and study….. and that’s it. No exercise or time for it by the looks… hahaha

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  63. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    … sigh … she would get $350 a week if she remains on the DPB (not studying full-time) she would be only getting $170 a week if she continued to study full-time. She cannot afford to continue to study full-time …

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  64. Left Right and Centre (2,979 comments) says:

    That’s why you’re here SPC…. because you do such sterling work correcting the ignorance of fucktards. You love it.

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  65. valeriusterminus (243 comments) says:

    DPF gets DPB sums wrong (maybe again);

    Did anyone (else) actually read the DPF post? – “The DPB pays $33.01 a week gross “

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  66. valeriusterminus (243 comments) says:

    Dime @ ‘last nite’
    “i actually created a bunch of jobs”
    Well – so did Stewart Murray Wilson.
    The value is in the measure.

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  67. Left Right and Centre (2,979 comments) says:

    I think it’s important to note the way the world actually works.

    Getting a qualification is one thing. Getting a job with that qualification is another.

    When the media speaks of a ‘skills shortage’ in any one area, this is what it should say; ‘there’s a skills shortage, but it’s a shortage of people that are deemed suitable and employable in that discipline’.

    I’ve personally met people that have got degrees and masters coming out of their fucking ears…. they are **never** ****EVER**** going to be employed by anyone in the way that they might like to be. One of them is a long-term sickness beneficiary. Socially retarded mate… you wouldn’t want him around to start off with.

    Some degrees and the ‘would you like fries with that’ add-ons are handed out like flyers. The employers aren’t so stupid.

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