“Fees-Free is unfair, unprincipled and unaffordable, and the next Government has a responsibility to dump it,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Fees-Free is unfair because young New Zealanders, many of whom will not benefit from it, will be paying for it for the rest of their lives. It is deeply regressive. As ACT has pointed out on many occasions, the policy primarily benefits young people from wealthier families who can afford to pay for tertiary education anyway. They’re being funded by less well-off taxpayers whose children are less likely to go into tertiary education. After four years of Fees-Free, the percentage of first year students from lower decile schools (1-5) has dropped from 38 per cent to 28 per cent.

“Fees-Free is an unprincipled bribe that hasn’t delivered results. Labour has spent about $2 billion on Fees-Free since 2017 but the participation rate for 18- and 19-year-olds in tertiary education has increased by just 1 percentage point from 43 to 44 per cent. That is a failure by any standard.

“It’s unaffordable because New Zealand is headed for a massive fiscal crunch. The Government took $2.329 billion less revenue in the 11 months to May than Treasury had forecast as recently as the Budget Economic and Fiscal Update. The fiscal situation is only going to get worse, and the next Government will need to take seriously its responsibility to get the books back in shape.

“The next Government must have the courage to reverse Labour’s policies rather than let them stack up like lasagne.

“There’s no shortage of wasteful spending to cut. ACT’s alternative budget shows how to cut $38 billion in four years by cutting wasteful spending such as:

  • Getting rid of corporate welfare like international film subsidies and the PGF.
  • Scrapping failed policies like Fees-Free.
  • Reducing bureaucracy in overstaffed and under-producing ministries, like MOE which has increased in size by 55.3 per cent since 2017.
  • Abolishing demographic ministries that just replicate work already done in policy ministries.
  • Scrapping expensive policies and organisations that don’t practically lower emissions like the Clean Car Discount and the Climate Change Commission.

“New Zealanders busy trying to balance their household budgets will be astonished to hear about the insane projects that have grown up like mushrooms under Labour.

“On 14 October, New Zealanders need to evict this desperate and incompetent Government so we can have real change.”

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