02 September 2014
In wake of the outrage that followed the publication of Dirty Politics some strong policy gains for tertiary students have been overshadowed. As the voting period for the General Election starts tomorrow (Wednesday 3rd September), the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) is encouraging students to think carefully about what is good for them and good for New Zealand.
"Students are well placed this election to punch above their weight," says Daniel Haines, NZUSA President. "Several contributing factors have reduced traditional barriers to voting – the election falls in the middle of semester, advanced voting booths are available on campus, and students who are not enrolled can sign up and vote in one go up until the 19th of September. Given this situation, we are expecting to significantly reduce poor youth participation, and maximise the influence of 400,000 eligible tertiary students. Tertiary students are 15% of the total potential voting population.
"Students’ associations have worked with the Electoral Commission and institutions to have early voting booths available at most campuses, and have produced material that both promotes voting itself, and summarises parties’ approaches to the issues that students have told us they care about", says Haines.
"We are delighted that fee-free education is an issue this year, a key part of Internet/Mana’s platform and supported by New Zealand First and the Greens. Free transport for tertiary students as is promoted by the Greens and the Māori Party will make a significant impact on student finances. We have obtained cross-party majority support that promises an immediate restoration of post-graduate allowances, a review of student support in general, and potentially a move towards universal student allowances. The new parliament is also likely to reject the proposed removal of students and staff from university and wānanga council.
"Students have the collective power to make or break the Government. A seventeen day voting window has significantly reduced barriers to voting. We’ve done the groundwork so that students have good student support policy to vote for. All they need now is you – get out and vote!"