The details are here.
- Political parties love to launch education policies at this time of year: just around the time parents are sending their kids back to school, presumably because they think its an optimum time to play on their anxieties about their children’s futures. (Last year at this time National announced their ‘super-teacher/super-principal’ program.)
- I’ve always thought free tertiary education makes economic sense. Workers with better skills/qualifications earn more, thus pay more in tax, usually far more so than the cost of their tertiary education. And they’re adding more value for their employers, who also pay tax. No doubt someone in the comments will explain to me why this isn’t so.
- People are calling it a bribe. But it doesn’t kick in until 2019 (if Labour are elected) and it doesn’t take full effect until 2025! Most of the recipients of the free three years will be school leavers, so Labour is ‘bribing’ a cohort of New Zealanders currently aged 5-10.
- I guess they could be seen to be ‘bribing’ their hard working kiwi mums and dads? A lot of people on twitter seem to feel that this policy will be popular with parents worried about their kids getting into debt. And sure, maybe – after all this time I’m not going to pretend I have any idea what large groups of swing voters think/feel. But ‘parents’ as an aggregate group didn’t vote for this policy when it was introduced by the Greens, or Internet/Mana, and don’t seem to care particularly about ‘their kids’ being shut out of the housing market in perpetuity.
- I find the strategy here a bit surprising. I would have thought that one of the big negative impressions/barriers to voting that people have about the Labour Party is profligacy. ‘Borrow and spend’. All that core National messaging stuff. So launching a big ticket billion dollar policy right at the start of the years seems risky to me.
- It will be wildly, insanely popular with the activist left though. Most of them were involved in student politics and student unions (like Andrew Little) and protested against the fees and loan policies in the 1990s (or subsequently) and for them free tertiary education is a defining political issue.