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Chris The Lawyer
Chris The Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: New Zealand Law
Satisfied Customers: 18771
Experience:  32 years qualified as a lawyer; LLB, MMgt and FAMINZ.
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We have student loans which we did not pay for over 10 years.

Resolved Question:

We have student loans which we did not pay for over 10 years. Over the years it has grown in size to more than double the amount we were originally granted.

Having arrived in NZ in 1996 on qualification assessed migration scheme, we made every effort to secure even lowest level jobs with no success. At last the income support threatened us that the support will be stopped unless we found jobs. The alternative proposal was to enhance our skills with further education. We were sent educational advisers. Under duress we agreed to follow courses offered, since there was no option.

Even after years of education we were unable to get any employment. That's when we took the chance of trying our chances in other countries. Finally we got some jobs, that did not go with our qualifications but we being active human beings who were making their living on their strengths, back home in Sri Lanka where we came from. It is important to note that we held good jobs with pensions to retire back in Sri Lanka but all those rights we sacrificed to have a so called high standard life style in a developed county, NZ, according to the advertisement of NZ immigration that lured us to NZ. Now in old age (I am 63 and my wife 56, lived and worked with no respite labor oriented jobs to secure something to depend, in our old age since we are not entitled to Australian retirement benefits, having arrived in Australia in 2003, after the changes effected to NZ citizens entitlements that deprived any retirement benefits, for arrivals after 2001.

Our argument is that we followed the education programs offered for enhancing skills on the advice of NZ Income Support and under duress of suspension of living expenses. Therefore, asking us to pay such loans that we did not want were nothing but injustice and unethical. That too, out of the savings we have made with lot of sacrifices, to spend our remaining few years of life, not in NZ but back in the country where we came from, Sri Lanka.

By doing so we would be doing an immense service to the innocent tax payers of NZ who will not have to pay the bills for us, as old, feeble and now with deteriorating health condition of Diabetes, Hypertension, rheumatism related bone aches and pains including renal disorders.

Your advice please.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: New Zealand Law
Expert:  Chris The Lawyer replied 11 months ago.

Chris The Lawyer : Hi and welcome. My first response will follow shortly. Please feel free to follow up if anything is not clear.
Chris The Lawyer : if you are unable to pay the debts, and have no assets then bankruptcy may be an option. The student loans can be recovered from Australia however and you may have assets which you want to preserve.
Customer:

None of the reasons I have given above affect my liability?

Chris The Lawyer : if you do nothing about the loans then they may seek judgment against you, and then seek to enforce this in Australia. I expect that you have considered this, which is why you have raised what is effectively a cross claim, that the education you obtained was of little value
Chris The Lawyer : the problem with this cross claim, is that for most purposes there is a limitation period of 6 years.
Customer:

Absolutely it was of no value at old age, to follow courses and compete with young and able NZ students

Chris The Lawyer : This means that if you say the fees borrowed were for courses which have not helped you earn more money, despite assurances, then you say the loans were also of no use. But I would be concerned about limitation issues in raising this defence.
Chris The Lawyer : What sort of courses were they?
Customer:

When you say "earn more money" that was not the situation. We did not get any jobs though we applied for hundreds of jobs went for interviews never selected. Excuse for rejection most of the time was either you are over qualified or too old for beginners level jobs

Customer:

For my wife who was an economist she followed 3 years degree in computer science.

Chris The Lawyer : Do you have assets in Australia to protect?
Customer:

we have a house with a huge debt. we paid 30,000 and got a loan of 420000 that we will have to pay from our tomb till I reach 90 years old if I ever live

Chris The Lawyer : If you declared bankruptcy in New Zealand this would wipe the debt. However you would need to disclose the assets you have. If you do not have much equity in the home then the Insolvency and Trustee Service may not bother with this. But certainly there is a risk they may place a charge on the property
Chris The Lawyer : Of course there is also a risk they may bankrupt you anyway
Customer:

According to you we have no sympathy for the injustice done to us for coming to nz based on the advice and the beautiful advertisements carried by nz immigration. My wife would have been a senior director in the ministry today had she stayed back like most of her colleagues who are enjoying all the perks in their old age. So those who pushed us to this predicament are going scot free. Mind you we were not refugees. We paid a big sum to a Lawyer from Manukau city who came to Colombo and through paper ads called for interested parties. We were not crooks who came to NZ for dole.

Chris The Lawyer : I think the problem is that if you had been aware of the limitation issue you might have done something earlier. But in reality if they try to bankrupt you, you certainly could raise these matters to defend the bankruptcy in the discretion of the court, because of your age, I'll health, and the essential pointlessness of chasing you.
Customer:

I have just prepared a letter with facts and figures to Minister to look at our case not as students who were born in NZ and knew the situation from ab initio. We could have stayed in NZ for the last 10 years without any job or under employed eating into the tax payers money. Instead we took the chance and came to Australia and started in the lowest level menial jobs to survive. Haven't we saved the nz tax payers more that three times the amount we owe, by leaving nz/. That alone is the just action we took on behalf of everyone's benefit. And shylock the Jew is punishing us.

Chris The Lawyer : Have you explained this to Inland Revenue yet? I see you are writing to the Minister
Customer:

And we have no any idea of coming to NZ to die. Better die in our land where we were born and save even the money that NZ tax got to pay for our coffin.,

Chris The Lawyer : The bankruptcy only applies to New Zealand
Customer:

Nor our child will be a burden to NZ tax system. Finally is there anything that will help us in someway based on the details I have given in a true exposure

Chris The Lawyer : Apart from bankruptcy, all you can do is raise with Inland Revenue, the facts that the education that was paid for by the loan was essentially useless.
Customer:

Over the phone we brought this to the attention of the officers, collection, and they pay no heed to that and say that you took this loan. This is why we thought to bring this to the attention of the minister in charge. Do you have any idea who is the minister responsible.

Chris The Lawyer : Hekia Parata is the Minister of Education and Todd Mclay is the Minister of Revenue
Chris The Lawyer : It is better to write as it is harder to avoid a letter or email
Customer:

Which one you think the most suitable person to read our grievances and injustice meted out on us. Do you see any discrepancy in our writing (English) This was one reason they highlighted that we were not able to secure jobs though we had sound qualifications and experience at highest level.

Chris The Lawyer : Your experience sadly is not unusual. It can very hard for migrants to break through the barriers. They may have over sold the advantage of the courses you undertook as well. It's not easy to pick which are the most useful, especially from a distance.
Customer:

For your info my wife was the first in the batch to successfully complete the 3 year course and get credential yet not a single job application was successful.

Customer:

You have answered many a question but not any of them will lead us to bring forward our predicament to a redeemer with magnanimity, is what is unfolding in our conversation. I can see that you are trying to enlighten me with some facts. That's good. and thank you for that. Probably, if I give you time to investigate our situation in a different perspective away from the normal absconder of student loan, would you be able to shed more light that we would be able to pursue?.

Chris The Lawyer : Debt collection has to have a point. Inland Revenue have limited discretion to waive outstanding debt and this is why you have been met with unhelpful responses. But ultimately this is government policy, so contacting politicians may be the only realistic approach.
Customer:

Ok. then out of the two politicians (ministers) you mentioned whom do you think the best person to communicate with.

Chris The Lawyer : Try both
Customer:

Thank you. Will you be able to try and collect any information and pass on to me to try and see. Thank you and I am happy to let you go. Thank you once again. I think you have my email address and phone contact. XXXXX@XXXXXX.XXX 61-0432686354

Chris The Lawyer : You should be aware we do not contact customers direct on the site.
Chris The Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: New Zealand Law
Satisfied Customers: 18771
Experience: 32 years qualified as a lawyer; LLB, MMgt and FAMINZ.
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