Defaulting student loan borrowers living in Australia have stumped up $4.7 million since a new information-sharing agreement kicked in, the Government says.

The agreement lets the Australian tax office give Inland Revenue contact details for borrowers living in Australia.

The first exchange of information was made in November last year, when contact details for 57,000 borrowers were sent to Inland Revenue, 38,000 of whom were in default.

Inland Revenue sent a number of these to a collection agency.


Revenue Minister Judith Collins said that by May, repayments received topped $4.7m. Some borrowers paid off their debt in full, and others set up repayment plans.

Another 12,000 borrowers have voluntarily contacted Inland Revenue since the information-sharing agreement came into force.

A recent exchange of information gave Inland Revenue the contact details of another 10,000 borrowers.

Last year the Herald revealed the arrest of Cook Islands man Ngatokotoru Puna, 40, at Auckland Airport as he tried to leave the country.

Puna was the first person arrested under a new hard-line policy, passed in March 2014, that allows an arrest warrant to be issued for the worst student loan defaulters.

Student unions have criticised the border arrest policy as draconian and likely to make overseas Kiwis "student loan refugees" - unable to return home for weddings, funerals or other important events.

Accurate contact information is crucial - an arrest warrant can only be issued if a district court judge is satisfied a person is knowingly avoiding student loan repayment obligations.