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October 2, 2011 | by  | in Features |
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NZ First

Last week, 21-year-old Victoria University student Ben Craven was selected as New Zealand First’s candidate for Wellington Central. Salient writer Ryan Hammond sat down with Craven to talk about tertiary policy, New Zealand First, and why he wants to represent you in Parliament.

What are the key aspects of New Zealand First’s tertiary policy and how is it going to be funded?
Basically our policy for graduates is a dollar-for-dollar repayment scheme, so if the student stays in New Zealand to pay off their student loan, we’ll match them. The idea is that it will be funded by the taxes that a person pays while they are in New Zealand and it’s better than a high student loan forcing them overseas because that’s the case at the moment. We’ve got a student debt of over $11 billion. It’s phenomenal. The idea is to encourage people to stay in New Zealand to help our economy instead of going overseas. It’s about viewing students as an asset—an investment—as opposed to a liability.

New Zealand First has a history of attracting older voters, with the exception of the dollar-for-dollar policy, what is New Zealand First doing to connect to a younger generation?
To accompany our tertiary policy, we’ve got a great policy—which has been poached by Labour—regarding apprenticeships. Our idea was that because there are so few apprenticeships here in New Zealand and consecutive governments have basically failed youth in that regard, we were going to pay their dole money to the employer when they take on an apprentice. So it makes it in an employer’s best interests to take them on. That’s another way we’re going to help young people out.

Fairfax recently announced you as one of the youngest people standing in this election. What made you want to run and what made you want to run for New Zealand First?
What made me want to run is just pure representation. A lot of politicians go on about representing their people, but I really don’t think they are. If you look at the face of youth politics at the moment, it’s basically just Gareth Hughes. I think if you’re going to look at someone like that—he dresses up as a clown and goes to protests—you’re not taking youth seriously. In order for the public to take the youth voice seriously, they need to look to someone who takes themselves and the group they are representing seriously.
Why New Zealand First? Because New Zealand First is opposed to sectional interest. The media might make out that we’re a party for old people, but at the end of the day we’re a party for all New Zealanders. We’re about creating a nation of communities, not a community of nations. Basically, we’re not for the workers, we’re not for one ethnic group, or business people, we’re for the whole lot. That’s my motivation.

I read online that you oppose VSM. Would you want to make a policy to reinstate CSM?
Personally I’m not a fan of VSM. John Key released a statement today saying the core functions of student unions would not be affected and I think that’s a load of bollocks. Regarding student unions, I think there was too much bureaucracy to begin with and that gave them a bad reputation. I think they could be slimmed down a bit to their core functions, to properly represent people, maybe reallocate a few resources away from sports teams and stuff like that and towards representation and grievances and stuff like that. I would personally oppose VSM and seek to reintroduce CSM because it empowers people.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Bob says:

    I think the thing about Gareth Hughes kind of cheapened this, so he’s an activist and passionate about issues, so what?

    And why do you say ‘poached’? Surely you want NZF’s ideas to be more popular?

    “That’s so not Craven”

  2. Kate Arthur says:

    This is my first time voting and NZ First is quite interesting. The media don’t really give them a fair go because of Winston Peters attitude towards them. But they’ve never had anybody younger to appeal to our crowd either. I guess its good that they have people like this guy coming through who want to stand up for something and aren’t just joining Labour or National or the Greens. I would like to see a more nationalistic voice in the house of parliament and I don’t really trust a lot of the Labour Party… We’ll see who I decide on..

  3. Judy Haynes says:

    @ Bob, it is absolutely vital for Ben to make it known NZFirst’s policy regarding apprenticeships was poached, a rather kindly expression I would say. When Labour announced their poached policy NZFirst commented that it could be looked at as a form of flattery! This along with other published ideas & policy have actually been stolen. Which under the new Copyright Law would be an offence I believe. I stand to be corrected there. Dunne also took the free health check straight out NZFirst manifesto announcing it as his. No acknowlegement of its true source. See; http://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/opinion/171285/gloves-plagiarisation-nz-firsts-policies

    Ben, You are onto it. Keep up the good work.

  4. Barry Taylor says:

    I am hugely pleased to hear of the NZF youth programme, it is encouraging for our future.

    As one of Key’s “irrelevant elders” I am encouraged to hear the NZF has moved on beyond a marginal section of the community to embrace the young as well.
    Keep it up guys those of us “dying off” want to know Key is going to have NZF bugging him for generations to come.

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