NZ Politics in review

Parliament sits, government eyes new spy bill & Labour dangles student carrot…

Parliament’s back for its August session, with new spy legislation set to be introduced by the government. Elsewhere, a new poll shows an increase for the opposition and Labour leader Andrew Little has floated the idea of wiping student loans—with a catch!

Following up on recommendations made in a March report, Cabinet is planning on introducing legislation to Parliament that would see the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) governed under one law. In effect, and controversially, the GCSB would be allowed to attain warrants to spy on New Zealanders. In 2013, it was revealed there had been 88 instances where the GCSB had illegally spied on New Zealanders.  

A Newshub-Reid Research poll shows the National Party could be in trouble in next year’s election, as long as the Greens and Labour play ball and cooperate. The poll of 1000 eligible voters has National down 1.9 points to 45.1 percent. Labour is at 32.7, up 1.4 percent and the Greens now sit at 11.5, up 0.4 percent. Together, that’s 44.2. Predictably, Winston Peters is still the kingmaker, with NZ First polling at 8.1 percent.

Labour leader Andrew Little kicked off the month’s parliamentary session with a little carrot dangle for the in-debt masses. Talking to Victoria University student radio, Salient FM, Little said the party is considering a policy of wiping a student’s debt if they took a public service job in the regions. "There is a problem, with graduates with significant levels of debt, there is a further problem with organisations in the regions having difficulty recruiting graduates in those regions. So it's about matching solutions to those particular problems," Little said. 

Earlier this year the Labour Party launched a policy for three years of free tertiary study to be rolled out by 2025, with an annual cost of $1.2 billion a year. Student loan debt is currently at around $15 billion, with more than 720,000 students owing money, according to official figures.

This article first appeared in Issue 20, 2016.
Posted 10:50am Sunday 21st August 2016 by George Elliott.