COMMENT: By Andrew Dickens

So I see Steve Price, the Australian broadcaster and commentator, turned up again on last night's The Project in Australia and told the nation he was dumb.

Of course the night before he got stuck into Jacinda Ardern for holidaying in Queensland, telling her to stay at home and stop virtue signalling (despite the fact the rest of the nation was congratulating her for supporting Australian tourism through a difficult time).

The story went crazy yesterday and even dragged Alan Jones into the whole thing. It's amazing that Jacinda Ardern can create such a stir while doing nothing at all. All she did was pose for a selfie with another tourist


And it was dumb by Steve Price. Ardern booked her holiday ages ago. It was no stunt.

But following on from Price's lead, I too would like to apologise.

Yesterday I said that attacks on Ardern such as Price's are irrational, a little bit misogynistic and sexist.

That got some people's goat. So I apologise to those people who fiercely dislike our Prime Minister - but not on sexist, misogynistic or irrational grounds.

A lot of people contacted me to say they just don't like the PM because she's no good at her job. And that's absolutely fine.

Apologies are funny things and some people simply refuse to offer them because they refuse to take responsibility for their own actions.

Speaking of which, this morning we heard criticism about the way a woman was treated regarding her student loan debt.

She was stopped and arrested at Auckland Airport over her debt. She had been in New Zealand visiting her unwell mother, and was arrested on Friday as she attempted to fly out of Auckland Airport to the United States. She spent a night in jail, it's understood, before staying in a hotel over the weekend and appearing in court on Monday.

Student advocates were on the radio complaining and talking about a climate of fear surrounding these poor heavily indebted students.


I think I heard a collective sigh at that one. There are 100,000 outstanding student debtors yet only nine people have been arrested since the policy came in in 2016. So it's not really some brutal crackdown.

The thing about debt is that if you get yourself into it - and it's also your responsibility to get yourself out of it.

This woman thought she could sneak in and out of the country without dealing to a problem of her own making. While we have sympathy for her unwell Mum, a grown-up would have placed a call to the people she owes money to to figure out an acceptable course of action.

It gets my goat because it's so ungrateful.

People seem to forget that 80 per cent of tertiary fees are paid for by you and I, the taxpayer. The students who stand to gain from the education are asked to contribute just a fifth and they're given an interest-free loan if they don't have the money. This is one of the more generous tertiary arrangements in the world.

I don't think it's too much to ask that indebted students are compelled to make some sort of effort into paying back taxpayers' money.

After all, ask anyone with a mortgage on their house what happens if they welch on their debt.

* Andrew Dickens is a Newstalk ZB host.