Attended on Saturday my first NZUSA meeting for oh around 15 years.

Was only there for ninety minutes along with Mark Blumsky who was taking part in a panel discussion on the likely political climate in 2005, and how NZUSA can be effective in election year.

Generally the questions and answers were very good, and reflected this was an intelligent and politically aware crowd. I did have to stop myself laughing a couple of times when one person asserted there was a secret deal about how long Don Brash would stay on as Leader after the election. Umm, no there isn’t.

NZUSA was a basket case when I first got involved with 14 full-time officers and staff, fighting every issue under the sun. It got restructured in the late 80s and has done a lot better by focusing on core student education and welfare issues, and now has only three officers and around three staff.

I still think they do miss the boat from time to time. The focus on the loans scheme is focusing on the symptom, when in fact issues such as parental means testing (which I have labelled as crazy when it started, and still think it is) are the cause of why people borrow so much, and the solution is not making it more attractive for students to borrow, but for students not needing to borrow so much.

Also very pleased to see some students pointing out that one of the easiest ways to help students pay back their loans is to have lower tax rates, especially as loan repayments are basically just a 10% temporary targeted tax.

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