Editorials 20 April 2010

The Herald supports proposed student loan changes:

Either way, it is clear that the Government, having declined to do away with interest-free student loans, must find ways to reduce the cost of the scheme.

t has to do this, first, because an alarming 41.5 per cent of the Government money placed in tertiary education goes directly to students as loans, allowances and interest subsidies. That is more than double the OECD average. Also, Mr Joyce, like other ministers, must find savings in his portfolio for this year’s Budget. This year he took a first step by proposing that student loans should be conditional on students’ success. That was reasonable, if only because it moved the loans into the same territory as living allowances to students on age, income and residential criteria, which are not available to those who failed more than half their course the previous year. In the same vein, new residents already have to wait two years for a student allowance or a welfare benefit. There seems no reason for student loans to be different, and good reason for them to be aligned. …

If any exception is to be made to the proposed stand-down period for student loans, it should be for refugees. Most, by dint of their status, arrive in this country with virtually nothing. The scheme provides those who wish to study with a degree of independence. Clearly, refugees are not comparable to the new residents who Mr Joyce suggests swoop on student loans as soon as they arrive, whether or not they are committed to their studies or to New Zealand. In effect, signing on for tertiary courses provides them with funding denied them by the two-year benefit stand-down.

I agree that the two year stand down for new migrants should exclude refugees. Refugees are admitted for humanitarian reasons, not economic reasons.

The Dom Post talks terrorism:

Hence, terrorist threats to Olympic and Commonwealth Games are not just an attack on the athletes, or host countries, but an attack on international fellowship – an attempt to stop nations and peoples co-operating and getting to know each other.

The reasons for the weekend bomb blast outside the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, venue for an Indian Premier League cricket match, are not yet known, but the amateurish nature of the devices that injured 17 people suggests it may have been the work of disaffected locals rather than al Qaeda, which early this year warned international competitors to stay away from the World Hockey Cup, the IPL tournament and the October Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

But, whatever the case, Commonwealth governments and sporting associations are doing the right thing by not being panicked.

And the ODT supports safer driving measures:

Something must be done about youth driving.

The statistics are oft-quoted but they bear repeating because they lie at the heart of the Government’s move, among other things, to raise the driving age to 16.

Take comparison with Australia: New Zealand drivers in the 15-19 age group suffer an average of 21 deaths a year for every 100,000 of population, compared with Australia’s rate of 13.

Further, young drivers between the ages of 15 and 24 in this country comprise 16% of all licensed drivers but in 2008 they were involved in around 37% of all fatal crashes and 38% of all serious injury crashes. …

Road crashes in fact are the highest single killer of 15- to 24-year-olds and the leading cause of their permanent injury.

Broadening out the international comparisons, 15- to 17-year-olds in New Zealand have the highest road death rate in the OECD and 18- to 20-year-olds the fourth highest.

The Government’s moves in the area of youth driving are widely supported as long overdue.

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