New Zealand Labour Party

Ministers with free degrees hypocritical

Senior National Party ministers who mock the idea of free post-school education for New Zealanders are hypocrites, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says.

“In Parliament today several ministers - including the Prime Minister - openly scoffed at the idea that young Kiwis and those who need to retrain for future work should receive funding for that education.

“Most of those same ministers were recipients of free tertiary education which today would be worth close to $20,000 each. Steven Joyce’s Zoology degree would cost a young adult $19,000 today, the Finance Minister’s degrees in Commerce and English Literature would cost $24,000 and John Key’s Bachelor of Commerce would land a young student with a debt of $18,000. All of these senior MPs received their education for free.

“Student loans will pass $15 billion in just a few months’ time, holding our young people back with decades of debt. Under this Government, tertiary fees have risen by 37% while tuition funding has had only a 3% increase.

“When Labour’s Working Futures Plan was announced, Steven Joyce said no one would value education if they didn’t have to pay for it.

“What nonsense from a Minister whose own degree was 21 years in the making.

“Investing in our young people’s future, providing the means for Kiwis to retrain throughout their lives for work, is good for New Zealand and good for the economy. It is exactly what a responsible, visionary Government would do.

“Instead we have a bunch of privileged Ministers who would rather pull up the ladder behind them and dismiss the value education has played in their own lives than admit it should be available to all,” Andrew Little says.