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October 7, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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How National Learnt to Hate Young People

It’s not unusual to see National hating on specific categories of New Zealanders. Under this National Government, there has been hardly a group of people who haven’t been targeted by cuts, a ‘crackdown’ or a punitive policy. While young people might be becoming accustomed to being scapegoated by the Government, last week was quite special—as last week people were fucked in a new and non-trivial way, not once, but twice.

New LVR (loan-to-value ratio) rules are touted by the Government as a way to take the heat out of the property market by reducing demand. The new rules will increase the minimum size of deposits required for mortgages, meaning that now buyers will need to pay 20 per cent up front, an increase for most buyers of ten per cent. This means that for a $500,000 home, an average buyer will need to have $50,000 extra saved before they can enter the market. Sure, ECON130 tells us that this will reduce demand and probably cause a reduction in house prices—but who is it that is being priced out of the market? It’s young people.

The people who are struggling the most to get into their first home at the moment are the exact people who are going to struggle more because of this policy. It’s the Wellington YoPros who have saved a deposit, found a partner in the public service and want to buy their first home in Mt Cook who will be hurt. Young people, having scraped the money together for a $50-grand deposit, are now held back by the Government shifting the goalposts so their home is again out of reach, and will now see homes being snapped up by property investors and speculators who can afford the larger deposits.

But, the Government didn’t stop there. Last week, Steven Joyce announced changes to university governance so that staff and students will not have representatives at University Council, the highest level of governance in these institutions. The two most important groups at Universities will have democratic rights taken away from them, making their governing bodies less representative, less student-friendly and more focussed on profit than education. Already these councils are stacked in favour of the government of the day, making fee increases a practical formality without any increase in teaching quality. It literally takes students and staff out of the room where tangible decisions about their teaching and learning are made.

For young people, the last week has seen real changes in their future prospects in terms of study and home ownership. I’ve said before that governments should exist to help the citizens of their country. This government isn’t just failing at that, it is doing the opposite.

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