How Each Political Party Will Impact You as a Student
By Jack Pirie
In this last news issue of Debate Magazine, I have decided to stray away from the unfortunate seemingly repetitive nature scandals within AUT and focus on providing a student’s guide to this year’s election. For many of you this may be your first time voting and have absolutely no clue who you should vote for, why you should vote and how you should vote, and that’s ok. Allow me to guide you through this journey and help you become an integral part of the New Zealand community.
This week I was able to meet with three MPs from three different parties and asked them some questions based around their policies, their beliefs and plans for New Zealand. I will break down these policies for you in an easy and enjoyable read that will hopefully leave you more in the know for the upcoming election. The three MPs belonged to National, Green and ACT, with a Labour candidate not being able to meet with me (interesting as they announced they wouldn’t follow through with their fees free scheme for 2nd and 3rd years). Along with the everyday questions, I managed to throw in a few curveballs to better understand the person behind the politician. Note: I am not endorsing any of these parties, I am merely conveying their policies and their thoughts to better inform you. I will briefly summarise my meetings with these promising politicians and convey their views and why they believe you should vote for them.
First things first, if you are 18 and over you need to vote. Every candidate made this point very clear. Voting is an important part of being a student and a functioning member of this great New Zealand community. It’s becoming more and more important for student voices to be heard, arguably more than ever. With COVID altering all of our plans for now, we need to realise that it will continue to alter our plans in the years to come and you will want to make sure that you are putting people in power who will help us better navigate the road ahead.
When I met with National's Simon Watts (AUT Alumni), he expressed why he believed National is the party for the students and New Zealand’s future. Simon conveyed that National’s plans for New Zealand are based on plans for “right here right now” saying that we can’t talk about these “fluffy” long term plans that the current government holds. National's focus will be based around bettering our economy with a focus on the technology centre, mental health
and a second harbour-crossing. While Simon did not study politics or law, he studied health science and became a paramedic and jumped into politics for the passion of wanting to do better for the country. Simon says students should vote National because ‘[we] represent
and understand the issues that students are facing as a student but also the first five years post coming out of university’ saying that National wants to ensure that New Zealand students are sufficiently looked after in the future. When asked about his favourite fruit Simon said it was an apple (I swear this will make sense at the end). The U2 enthusiast says a National New Zealand looks towards a revitalised nation with a push for innovation in terms of technology
Here is a basic overview of policies that National holds that will directly impact students.
Reinstate 90-day trial periods for all businesses.
The current government limited 90-day trial periods for new employees to businesses with fewer than 20 employees. National would reinstate 90-day trial periods for all businesses. Trial periods enable employers to dismiss an employee within the initial 90 days without providing a reason.
Provide scholarships for students from low decile
schools to study STEM degrees. National would offer 1,000 tertiary scholarships per year targeted at students from low decile schools to undertake science, technology, engineering and maths.
Consider reintroducing fees in the first year of study and first two years of training.
National believes the current government fees free programme has failed to lift enrolment in tertiary education.
I was able to talk to ACT’s co-leader Brooke van Velden who when asked, said she self-identified as an orange. Brooke believes that ACT is the party to vote for for a better New Zealand. Brooke believes that ACT deserves your vote because “New Zealand needs to be a place of aspiration and innovation” where ACT will be able to make homes affordable with an intense focus on the mental health sector and education reform. Brooke told Debate that she
believes not enough is being done to combat the serious mental health issues in New Zealand and in particular New Zealand’s youth. She believes that our current government hasn’t done enough in terms of education reform and this is what she and her party will focus on if elected in as government. ACT believes that the student voice needs to be heard more and that the youth of New Zealand will play an integral part of the future of the nation especially going through the effects of COVID.
Here is a basic overview of policies that ACT holds that will directly impact students.
Reintroduce fees on the first year of study and first two years of training.
ACT believes that tertiary education is one area where savings can be made. It also believes
that the current government’s fees-free programme has failed to increase the number of students going to university. By abolishing this policy, the government would save $346 million annually.
End the student allowance payment.
ACT would end the student allowance payment as they propose students would
be able to draw funds for living costs from the student education account.
Reintroduce interest on student loans.
ACT says interest-free loans is one area where savings can be made. The interest rate would be set at the government’s rate of borrowing plus a premium of two per cent.
Finally, I was able to meet with notorious Chlöe Swarbrick, the 26-year-old Green MP who went viral for her “ok boomer” comment in a session of parliament. When asked what fruit she would identify as she rapidly responded with an avocado. Chlöe believes that the Green Party is the way forward for New Zealand. Chlöe believes that students should vote for Green because “they believe in themselvesand believe in the country that they can have” putting emphasis on the fact that if you do not like politicians or the politics in place, it is up to you to vote to change and have the power to change the dynamics within New Zealand. Green's main focuses are minimising inequality in New Zealand, creating a flourishing environment and confronting global warming. The Frank Ocean lover truly believes in her party and their ability to do better for New Zealand.
Here is a basic overview of policies that the Greens hold that will directly impact students.
Make student allowance universal.
The student allowance would be paid at current rates regardless of age, parental income, relationship status, or partner's income.
Reform the student accommodation sector and increase obligations of universities.
Greens believe that the student accommodation sector is underregulated. The Green Party would review and reform the student accommodation sector.
Consider writing off some student debt for graduates that live and work in NZ.
The Green Party would investigate writing off some student debt for graduates who decide to live and work in NZ.
Even though I was unable to meet with a Labour MP I can give you a general basis of what a Labour New Zealand looks like and their main policies. Labour's main policies are based around managing New Zealand in a post COVID world. Labour believes that their plan
is already underway and NZ needs to “keep on moving” in terms of successfully confronting COVID-19 both as a nation socially and economically. However, as previously stated Labour has recently come out saying they are revoking the fees free scheme for 2nd and 3rd year students.
Here is a basic overview of policies that Labour holds that will directly impact students.
Expand eligibility for payment for studying while on the benefit.
Labour would allow people undertaking level 4 courses and above, including graduate degrees, to receive the allowance.
Maintain fees-free study for the first year of university students.
The programme would not be extended to provide additional fees-free years of study.
We were also unable to meet with NZ First. The party has also not released any policies on how student welfare will be directly impacted as of yet. In fact, it’s pretty hard to find many policies of theirs in general (probably to do with the fact that they’re polling so poorly). If you are interested in doing a bit of your own research, I would recommend contacting one of their MPs if you’re interested in learning more.
Whether you are voting for Avocados, Apples or Oranges it’s important that you do pick a fruit and vote. If you truly believe in New Zealand and want to have an impact on the state of the nation, do a little bit more research and vote for who you think will better the beautiful country. Hopefully this has been able to give you an outline of the basic policies and focuses of each party and we will be seeing you at the voting polls on the 17th of October.