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September 30, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Students Given English Lesson

Penniless students were given the chance to find out why they have no money last week at a talk by the head of the nation’s finances himself.

Victoria University graduate, Finance Minister and acting Prime Minister the Honourable Bill English came to University to speak to students about his daily job of managing New Zealand’s state assets, businesses and investments—a portfolio worth $250 billion.

The event was hosted by the Business and Investment Club (BIC) and attended by 120 students. English explained his role and the state of the economy by discussing housing and state asset sales.

When talking about asset sales, English described them as “not selling the family silver, but selling one teaspoon out of the set,” because they are such a small portion of New Zealand’s portfolio. To him, public-private partnerships are not about having the government run by a company, but about best managing resources as the public sector needs core skills of the private sector to work effectively. With regard to a rental warrant of fitness, English said it was “being looked into”.

“It is a matter of finding a balance between affordability and quality,” he said of the scheme.

On tertiary study, English said it is the combination of being able to understand commercial aspects (through Commerce study) and the context of political arguments (through Arts) that has got him to the position he is in today.

English was very impressed with the event. He told Salient the attendance and organisation were “amazing”.

“It was good the students asked such serious questions that were thoughtful and in some cases quite challenging.”

One student Salient spoke to said he felt quite “emotional” following the talk.

“I’m not sure I should comment on the political content, because I don’t agree with it. It was, however, informative and interesting to hear Mr English’s financial perspective.”

Another student commended Mr English’s sound economic reasoning and was pleased Mr English didn’t just go for emotional appeal.

President of BIC David Rektorys was stoked with how the event went, as a lot of work went into organising it, including two weeks of solid promoting, saying he “[couldn’t] wait  for the next event”.

A video of the talk will be available for students who missed out on the event on the BIC’s Facebook page.

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