Greens will help students in financial distress

The Green Party will stop National's campaign of punishing tertiary students and do more than any other party to support young Kiwis into study, Green Party students spokesperson Gareth Hughes said today.

Mr Hughes was responding to a New Zealand University Students Association survey of 5000 students, published today, showing nearly half of all fulltime students were in significant financial distress and 44 % reported not having enough to meet their needs.

"Encouraging more young New Zealanders into higher levels of study is a core part of the Green Party's election priority to create a more innovative economy that works for everyone," Mr Hughes said.

"It's simple: We can't have a smart, innovative economy without smart, innovative graduates.

"Under National, life will get even tougher for students. More than ever, this survey shows how important it is for students to use their vote this Saturday to achieve the kind of smart, green change New Zealand needs.

"The Green Party's policies will do the most for students' back pockets. Our policy package is designed to encourage more students into post-graduate study, and reduce financial pressures on all students.

"Our Student Green Card will provide for free public transport for all tertiary students and apprentices in off-peak hours. This will make a massive difference to students trying to make ends meet.

"We'll help student incomes rise through a lift in the minimum wage to $18 an hour by 2017, and we'll reduce their expenses by restricting rent rises, and bringing down power bills through our NZ Power scheme.

"Crucially, the Green Party will also reinstate the student allowance for post-graduate study. National should never have removed access to the allowance. It was a stupid decision that actively discourages students from striving to achieve all they're capable of and robs our country of their full potential.

"New Zealand needs smart tertiary policy that that values the contribution higher education makes to our economy and society. That way we can have an innovative economy that works for everyone," Mr Hughes said.