“The $128 million being given to universities is the result of Labour’s inability to see the bigger picture, whether it’s in the case of their bloody-minded response to COVID or their resulting obsession with throwing money at everything,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The abundance of caution around COVID has become an abundance of costs on New Zealanders. By inflexibly locking down the borders with no regard for how that would affect various industries, the Government set them on a path where the only way they would ever recover is through handouts.

“The Government projected a loss of $480 million from the international education sector in 2021 because of COVID restrictions. What was New Zealand’s fourth largest export only a few years prior was decimated by the Government because they were blind to the wider issues of human wellbeing.

“They were also late to the rebuild. At the beginning of 2022 the rest of the world was welcoming international students back, New Zealand on the other hand was in the ‘Red traffic light’ phase because of 20 something omicron cases. To put that into perspective, yesterday there were 7,702 new cases reported yet life goes on.

“Meanwhile, from July 2020 ACT was calling for a risk-weighted approach to COVID for this exact reason, allowing low-risk travellers to still travel here safely so industries like international education could survive.

“Labour’s response to everything is to throw money at it. The result is whoever is the recipient might get some short-term relief, but everyone else just gets inflation.

“The Government is now planning to borrow $10 billion more than forecast by the Half-Year Update in December, just seven months ago. That cannot help but be inflationary, meaning higher interest rates for longer. It shouldn’t need to be said, but there is no free lunch in economics.

“This is part of a long-term decline in New Zealand’s wealth and productivity. Lithuania, The Czech Republic, and Slovenia have all overtaken us for productivity in the past five years. We don’t even compare to Australia, Canada, the U.S. or Britain any more. New Zealanders are spending more for less and less return.

“Look at Fees Free; Another Labour bribe aimed at tertiary students that hasn’t delivered results. It hasn’t increased access to education and has primarily benefitted those who don’t need assistance but cost taxpayers $350 million each year.

“The tertiary education bureaucracy has ballooned from 193 FTEs in 2017 to almost 400 now. Like every aspect of Government, money is going into bureaucracy but not delivery.

“Labour has no one to blame but itself for all these taxpayer-funded bailouts. What they need to realise is that there’s a better way. ACT says these challenges can be addressed, but in order to do that there needs to be a strong economy built around creating conditions for prosperity, giving people the opportunity to get ahead.”

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