I ran into the co-presidents of , when down in Dunedin. That reminded me that I had been planning to criticise their response to National’s policy of writing off an additional 10% of any student loan repayments. Note my critical comments are aimed at NZUSA as an institution and not personally directed to the co-presidents.

I would have thought that having hard working taxpayers writing off debt of those with student loans, if they make voluntary repayments, would at least get a small thank you from NZUSA. I mean most sector groups are happy when you give money away for free to their members.

But NZUSA’s response was:

Student leaders are critical of National’s announcement of a new student loan repayment bonus scheme, citing its strict eligibility criteria and lack of vision and scope as its downfalls.

The so called strict eligibility criteria being that they made it easier from their pre-election policy by expanding it to those overseas, and only requiring $500 of repayments over a year – not in a lump sum.

“However most borrowers are already making considerable compulsory loan repayments each week, and can’t afford to make further contributions on top of this. When they are already doing everything they should, why are they now being ignored by the government?”

This is amusing, as compulsory repayments are made through the tax system. Basically those with a student loan effectively pay an extra 10% tax, until they repay their loan. So when NZUSA says people can’t afford to make further contributions, they are in effect calling for lower taxes to list after tax pay. Except they actually attack any reduction in tax rates even though it helps people repay their student debt.

“We question why National has created such a narrow policy that will merely reward the rich and leave everyone else to struggle”

This is the most outraegous part. National is giving away taxpayer money to students and graduates who make voluntary repayments of just $10 a week, and this is called rewarding the rich.

Did NZUSA slam Labour for rewarding the rich when it wrote off interest on student loans? Of course not – even though it massively favoured the well off in society.

Did NZUSA slam Labour for rewarding the rich when it announced that they would no longer restrict student allowances to poorer students, and give them to everyone regardless of wealth? Of course not.

“With such tough economic times, and loan repayment obligations already being met by most loan borrowers, why are the majority being punished and left out of this policy to reduce the debt burden?”

And now NZUSA says this policy of giving away free money to students and graduates who make voluntary repayments, is “punishing the majority”.

I do not, of course, advocate that NZUSA should sycophantically welcome everything National does. But their response to the student loan write-offs was unbalanced to put it mildy – and I daresay totally out of kilter to what would be the reaction from the average student or graduate.

I think National are absolutely nuts to not be introducing voluntary membership of student associations. NZUSA explicitly campiagned against National in the 2008 election. Even though more under 25 voters, supported National than Labour – all those National voting students were forced to fund literature telling them not to vote National.

National could announce a free handout of $20,000 to every student and I suspect NZUSA would condemn them for it, or at the least spend most of their press release complaining it is not $25,000 or it is unfair women students don’t get more than male students or ….

So why is National going to keep forcing hundreds of thousands of students to keep funding student associations who will, beyond any doubt, campaign against National in the next election? It’s almost like National wants to lose the election. I mean could you imagine Labour supporting compulsory membership of (say) Federated Farmers if the Feds spent money telling all farmers to not vote Labour?

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