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Saturday, 23 February 2019 06:42 am

Students offer passionate election messages at Victoria University

ISSUES ARISE: (From left) Labour's Grant Robertson, NZ First's Tracy Martin, Co-leader of Greens Russel Norman and National's Paul Foster-Bell debated student issues and student loans at the Victoria University education debate with MC and Journalist, Wallace Chapman. IMAGE: Amanda Carrington

ISSUES ARISE: (From left) Labour’s Grant Robertson, NZ First’s Tracy Martin, Co-leader of Greens Russel Norman and National’s Paul Foster-Bell debated student issues and student loans at the Victoria University education debate with MC and journalist, Wallace Chapman. IMAGE: Amanda Carrington

FIVE hundred students gave politicians their opinion on student loans, universal allowance and domestic violence in a debate at Victoria University this week.

The passionate lunchtime session on Tuesday at The Hub was attended by Labour’s Grant Robertson, NZ First’s Tracy Martin, Greens co-leader Russel Norman and National’s Paul Foster-Bell.

Organiser and Victoria University Student Association president Sonya Clark says the cost of living, the cost of transport and getting jobs after graduating are issues students have to face.

“Studying is a very stressful time in life and what political parties do can really make a difference,” she says.

The biggest issue from the debate was student loans with many students having payments over thousands of dollars.

Ms Clark says student loans become a burden to all students and they want something done about it.

Isaac Harris (20) says he has lost track of his student loan but thinks it is over $40,000.

“It’s mind boggling. Something does need to be done about how we pay for student loans,” he says.

Some students say the economy is an issue for them in this election.

Jessie Alexander (19) says her vote is based on the economy, and she is looking for the best party for that.

“The economy is my main issue. What parties have the most sustainable economic policy?”

Beichen Yang (20) also wants economic growth, and says it is important to have “youth participation in the actual voting.”

Prisoners having the right to vote was also an issue, and when MC Wallace Chapman asked how many people thought they should be allowed to vote, the majority of students raised their hand.

Grace Carroll (20) says there needs to be a review of how the justice system is operating.

“Forums need to be set up for how to integrate prisoners back into society,” she says.

Some students spoken to by NewsWire say they came to the debate because they are undecided on who to vote for.

An issue for Geneveine Wilson (20) is “finding a political party with personal fit and values”.

Stacey Stewart (22) is concerned about the increasing disparity between the haves and have nots.

Amos Samson (19) is concerned about being influenced by others on how he chooses who to vote for.

“People force their ideas onto you. Being influenced to vote for a party you don’t want to,” he says.

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