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October 2, 2011 | by  | in Features |
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The Green Party

With the most recent Fairfax poll pitting the Green Party to receive ten per cent of the vote, New Zealand’s third-largest party are securing their place as a serious player in the upcoming election. Salient writer Merrin Macleod spoke to Green Party Tertiary Education spokesperson Gareth Hughes about the party’s vision for students.

Merrin: With the election coming up in November, what differences do the Greens offer over other major and minor parties for tertiary students and those entering the workforce?
GH: The Green Party values students; we’ve always been champions for student rights and adequate funding under successive National and Labour Governments. A smart country invests in its young people. The Green Party is committed to increased funding of tertiary education, greater student support and reducing the student loan debt burden.
One of our three election priorities is our plan to create 100,000 new green jobs through business incentives and government leadership. This will benefit graduates and along with our student loan debt write-off scheme for every year you stay in New Zealand, will help keep you in New Zealand. The other two election priorities are cleaning up our rivers and waterways and lifting 100,000 Kiwi kids out of poverty.

Another difference is we were the only party to oppose the so-called Skynet Copyright law passed under urgency and believe we need greater legal sources of content like Netflix
.
Merrin: Green policy available online states that you have the ultimate goal of removing the student loan in favour of fully Government-funded education, introducing a universal student allowance, and enhancing the funding for universities. What other areas of the budget would be sacrificed for these policies?
GH: We think spending money on education and supporting students is an investment in our economy and society. Obviously the national budget is tight and we couldn’t achieve all these straight away but we would work towards them. Unlike other parties addicted to foreign debt we have identified $8 billion in revenue over 3 years by ending pollution subsidies, halting some motorways, a temporary earthquake levy and a capital gains tax to fund our priorities and repay debt.

Merrin: I understand that the Greens are in favour of research, but resists anything that resembles genetic engineering in food production and nuclear power. Can you explain to science students who are interested in these areas why they should have to go overseas to further this research?

GH: We do support greater research and think it will play a key role in a smart prosperous economy. We support genetic research but believe it is prudent to keep organisms that have no possibility of ever occurring in nature in the lab until they are proven safe to release into the environment. New Zealand currently does have atomic research however there is no need for New Zealand to have nuclear power or weapons.

Merrin: Assuming that the current opinion polling is reflected in the election and the National Party retains Government, how will the Green Party work with the Government on tertiary education policy? Will you work against VSM?

GH: We will work with any party on issues where we agree (like our deal with National to insulate 200,000 Kiwi homes) but it is unlikely we would help them form a Government. It would be great to work with them on tertiary education issues in the future because currently they are on the wrong track, making studying less affordable, less accessible and impossible for some as they turn away thousands of students.

We support the important role of student associations in representation, advocacy and providing services. We will work with any party to change the law to let students choose how they organise and spend their student levies, not be told by the Act Party.

Merrin: In light of recent comments by Don Brash, what is the Greens policy on drug decriminalisation?
GH: We want to reduce the harm caused by all drugs and believe when it comes to cannabis current laws just aren’t working. We will prioritise the prosecution of crimes such as violent offences ahead of personal cannabis possession and enable doctors to prescribe cannabis products for severely ill patients.

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  1. Jake says:

    ‘…pitting the Green Party to receive…’? *Sigh*

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