14 Oct 2020

Greens push for student votes with slew of tertiary policies

4:56 pm on 14 October 2020

The Green Party is making a last-minute bid for the student vote by today highlighting a package of policies relating to tertiary education.

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick

Green Party Tertiary Education spokesperson Chlöe Swarbrick. Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

Green Party Tertiary Education spokesperson Chlöe Swarbrick says they are "the only party with a plan to ensure all students are supported with a universal student allowance, free public transport, and warm, dry homes".

The Green Party's plan for students includes:

  • A universal student allowance as part of the guaranteed minimum income. Initially, all full time students would be eligible for the current student allowance in time for the 2021 academic year. By the end of the next Parliamentary term, a full guaranteed minimum income of at least $325 a week would be in place for students.
  • Halving the cost of public transport for students and apprentices and making it totally free for students who qualify for a Community Services Card.
  • Abolishing youth "starting out" wages, so young people get paid at least the same minimum wage as other working people.
  • Continuing the Select Committee Inquiry into student accommodation.
  • Implementing a proper warrant of fitness for all private rental homes.
  • Regulating property managers and requiring landlords to be registered.
  • Funding tertiary institutions to create inclusive learning environments for students with disabilities, including support services and accessible building upgrades.
  • Continuing the Labour-led government's free apprenticeships and first year fees free programmes.
  • Reviewing the free apprenticeships programme to ensure steps are taken to promote gender balance.
  • Expanding the targeted training and apprenticeships fund to include te reo Māori courses.
  • Working with training providers, the energy industry and unions to create clean energy careers such as installing solar panels and upgrading the electricity network to be 100 percent renewable by 2030.

Swarbrick, announcing the policy at the University of Auckland, said the party's support for students has been a "staunch, long-term part of our kaupapa".

The focus of the policy is to ensure students have greater support when it comes to living, she says.

"Students and new graduates are facing some of the most challenging consequences of the disruption caused by Covid-19... We saw during Covid-19 that this wild-west sector [student accommodation] needs reigning in.

"When Covid-19 hit, it was the Greens pushing for a longer rent freeze and in the end we persuaded the government to agree to six months.

"Supporting students and young people is the best way to set Aotearoa up for a prosperous future, with a stable climate and affordable homes."

Swarbrick says the Greens have shown over the past three years that "even when we don't necessarily get that legislative change, in that role of advocacy inside of Parliament and bringing people on board to advocate outside of Parliament as well, we are able to bring about some substantive change".

Examples of that include her work with vice chancellors and student associations on reinforcing their power and ability to negotiate with accommodation providers, she says.

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