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July 22, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Labor Pains

The cross-Tasman double standard of student-loan availability looks set to continue, as proposed Australian legislation to allow more New Zealanders to access student loans is not set to pass.

Australians studying in New Zealand can get a student loan after three years of residency. The current legislation would allow Kiwis who entered Australia as dependent minors (under age 18) and who have been a resident in Australia for 80 per cent of the past decade to be eligible for the Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) for tertiary education or vocational training.

The future of proposed changes to Australia’s Higher Education Support Act had looked uncertain, due to the Australian federal elections. The Government-led legislation was behind a mass of other bills on the agenda before the September 14 elections, and the House will not sit again until after the elections. In addition, Labor has been polling poorly and looks set to lose the September elections, making the bill’s future even less likely.

However, since Kevin Rudd taking over as Prime Minister, Labor has jumped and is now polling closer to 50 per cent.

The Opposition’s universities spokesman said only that they would be “looking closely at the Government’s proposal”.

The change was announced after a summit in Queensland, which responded to racial violence involving Pacific-Island youths near the Gold Coast. The change aims to prevent young New Zealanders turning to gangs and drugs when they cannot gain qualifications for work.

New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully welcomes the move, citing its effects on jobs.

“Making tertiary education more accessible will lead to increased employment prospects,” he said.

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