For years and years I, and many many other students besides, argued strenulously for universal allowances and lower fees.
We railed first against Marshall and Goff and then against Lockwood and Creech. We pointed out the apalling inequity that while we were missing out, people who were unemployed were supported. We argued that poorer kids were put off and that education was a right. That your parents couldn't be expected to support you until you were twenty five. Sometimes, things got weird such as when the marriage loop-hole was championed by Shortland Street's Nick and Rachel.
My view then as now is that investing in higher education is vital to our future prosperity.
The left have always been the most amenable to this argument. The right have said its simple self-interest; that farmers don't get tax-payer funded training nor do pilots. Farmers do by the way, see here and here. Progressively however, Labour have modified and improved funding for students and for higher education to the point now where the annual cost of borrowing can be converted into universal allowances. Of course there's a impact on the Crown accounts - future debts will neither be incurred nor repaid but the Crown will still have to meet the costs of allowances. Of course there's some inequity between cohorts; I repaid my loan and I don't imagine I'll get a refund. These are not the main objections however, at least not the ones being trotted out by the likes of Farrar and Hooton.
Farrar and Hooton have discovered fiscal responsibility just in time to pronounce Clark and Cullen unfit. Universal tax cuts might be fine, but universal allowances; Labour's scuttling the boat. Predictable faux-outrage.
I'd have my reservations about this policy absent others but the fact is that Labour's track-record on education is extremely good. Critically for me, they have consistently invested in industry training and have now announced plans to further expand participation. Whereas the tertiary sector risked becoming faddish and irrelevant under Creech's funding system - a system that encouraged all providers to offer degrees and vandalised trade training - changes over the last ten years have created specialisation, refocused providers on local labour markets and promoted research.
I've said elsewhere this wouldn't be my number one priority - that'd be early childhood and special education - but when you examine the overall mix and balance of education policy, Labour's record is unrivalled and soon Generation Debt, a generation created by National, will be a thing of the past.
6 days ago