Big Little Chat
Labour is on the campaign trail, and Andrew Little stopped by to have a chat with Matt Amos about Labour’s initiatives.
Each year we have a raft of new students at UC. This also means fresh voters. What can Labour offer them?
Heaps. Long term, we’ll get the housing market under control, so they have a better chance in the future of owning their own home. If they don’t want to own property, we will provide better and more secure tenancy rights than what are currently on offer.
In terms of students and student life, Labour is committed to three years post-school education or training. This means no tuition fees for three years.
There are still major challenges with living costs, we know that. This is a big ticket item. We don’t have an immediate answer for that, but
BREAKOUT QUOTE everytime Labour has been in government, the stuff we’ve done to make student life easier has been quite significant.
People who pursue tertiary education overwhelmingly come from middle and upper class backgrounds. I think this means your Working Futures policy could be construed as an aggregate as a subsidy for a better offer.
Why do you think it’s ideal to spend hundreds of millions here than measures that could more effectively help the underprivileged – like improving social services or healthcare?
The reason we talk about the three years post school education or training is because it’s not just about those who go to university or polytechnic for a degree. It is about a commitment that anytime in your afterschool or working life, you can have access to training and education that fits what you need. For some, they won’t be going to university or tech straight after school. They might undertake an apprenticeship. It won’t be necessary to draw down that three years of study, straight away. For some they might not have any formal education or training until their 30s or 40s, when the application of work and the nature of technology is going to change, they need upskilling, and new education and they find a course that may suit them. So I reject the proposition that it’s designed to benefit those from a middle class heritage.
The other aspect is, it’s accompanied by another policy initiative, which is professionalizing career advice in schools – actually having dedicated people in schools working with students and parents, teachers, working with local industry, businesses and training providers, making sure that young people at the time they get to the end of high school – that they have expansive information based on what they decide to do. My big worry is I see too many cases where young people go into university after high school, which is kind of a difficult decision, because they don’t get enough access to information about alternatives. We want to change that.
BREAKOUT: We are entering an age now where it’s just not good enough to have a good high school education.
What do you see as the largest barrier to students seeking tertiary education?
The conversations I have with young people, show that it’s the fear of high tuition fees. Eliminating that barrier is a good start.
Could you have put forward a policy to increase living costs and student allowance, rather than offering free education?
That doesn’t benefit everyone – it benefits the middle class you mentioned earlier. We’ve got to think about who’s got to have access to post school education; pretty much every young person coming out of the school environment. Given the resources available currently I can’t make a commitment to assistance with living cost for students.
Labour has no policy of legalizing marijuana. Why is that?
There is a policy for medicinal use, but for wider liberation there isn’t. My caution on cannabis is that for young people (not yet fully developed brain), cannabis can have long-term detrimental effects, which I would be advocating my responsibility knowing the certain negatives.
If legalizing cannabis would decrease teenage use rates, would you support this?
I would certainly look into it.
What other factors would change your mind?
Public health risk is the primary factor. Also, the questions of priorities. i.e., mental health systems and their failures and lack of support would override the need to legalize cannabis.
Why does Labour not have a policy of legalizing abortion?
What we support is reviewing the current contraception, sterilization and abortion. Abortion is a conscious issue, so different MP’s have different views.
You haven’t done very well in the recent PM polls, why do you think this is?
I care less about that, and more about getting out and about. I care about Labour getting its message out. I care about the plans for housing, education, jobs (particularly in the communities struggling).
You’ve been pushing your message for over 2 years now, doesn’t that indicate that your message isn’t resounding with a large amount of New Zealanders?
Our polling has recently been going up, which means more people have been listening to our message. So, no I am not particularly worried about that. I’m more fussed about making sure it just gets out there.
Read more of Matt’s interview with Andrew Little on the CANTA Facebook page.