EDUCATION

Students suggest how to balance the country's books

Thursday 31 May 2012, 3:31PM
By Victoria University
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WELLINGTON CITY

The best and brightest from schools around the country arrived in Wellington today to compete in Treasury's inaugural Long-Term Fiscal Schools Challenge, with a scholarship to study at Victoria University at stake.

Teams from thirteen schools, from as far north as Auckland and as far south as Invercargill, will present their advice on how to keep future public services provided by Government affordable and sustainable, to a judging panel made up of Treasury officials and academics from Victoria Business School. 

The Challenge was launched in March, when Year 12 and 13 students were offered the opportunity to propose policy options that address New Zealand's long-term fiscal challenges and assess their likely impacts.

They faced a formidable brief: an ageing New Zealand population that will have wide-ranging implications for government tax and spending programmes in the near future.

With keeping New Zealand's debt within sustainable levels a given, the students have considered whether the country should raise taxes, sell assets, stop funding some services that are currently publicly-funded, or fund them to a lesser degree. They've also considered the implications of these decisions on the nation's economy, environment, productivity levels, health and wellbeing.

Dean of Victoria Business School Professor Bob Buckle says the students are examining issues that will affect their generation.

"These students will inherit the legacy of policy decisions made today so it's important that they're part of the debate and discussion on these issues. We're proud to be supporting this initiative and to be offering members of the winning team a scholarship to attend Victoria University after completing their secondary education."

While in Wellington the teams will meet the Hon Steven Joyce, Treasury Deputy Secretary Girol Karacaoglu, tour Parliament and Victoria University's Pipitea campus, and attend a lunch hosted by Professor Bob Buckle.

Members of the winning team—to be announced next month—will each receive a $2,000 scholarship from Victoria University and an iPad2 or a laptop.  

Representing Victoria University on the judging panel are Chair in Public Finance Professor Normal Gemmell and Professor John Creedy, School of Accounting and Commercial Law.