Labor’s decisive win in the Victorian state election last night shows the Abbott Government’s plan for $100,000 university degrees is electoral poison.
Shadow Higher Education Minister Senator Kim Carr said the result should send a crystal clear message back to Canberra that the Abbott Government has no mandate for its fatally flawed higher education plan.
“There is no doubt that Victorians have repudiated Tony Abbott and his plans for massive university fee hikes,” Senator Carr said.
“It is extremely disappointing that the Liberal Party continues to be in denial about the impact of its deeply unjust university cuts following the Victorian election.
“Australians oppose the Abbott Government’s fundamentally unfair higher education plans.
“No one will be fooled that $100,000 university degrees are anything other than electoral poison.
“Christopher Pyne’s higher education package is rotten to the core. It is an unsalvageable mess and should be put in its rightful place: on the rubbish heap.
“Reported partial backdowns on some of the most punitive aspects of this package don’t fix the worst part; the Abbott Government’s determination to rip away 20 per cent of funding for universities. They would do nothing to stop $100,000 degrees becoming the reality for Australian students.
“By decimating university funding, at the same time as they are giving universities free rein to set their own fees, the Government is guaranteeing that fees for popular and vital courses like nursing and teaching will double or treble.
“It is a simple and certain truth that fees will go up massively to cover the 20 per cent cut the Government is inflicting on universities, as well as to pay for scholarships, research and now potentially an expanded GST.
“Regional, rural students and mature age students are in the weakest position to defend themselves and will be among the worst hit by these changes.
“It is ironic that the Abbott Government is apparently suggesting that the problems of price gouging can be fixed now by having more regulation in their deregulated system.
“The idea of regulating deregulated universities to control price rises for more than 10000 university courses offered by almost 200 public and private providers will require a massive bureaucracy or it will be a paper tiger.
“A pause on HECS-HELP loans for new parents, at the reported cost of $270 million, will not prevent massive price hikes on degrees.
“Abandoning plans for higher student loan interest rates, at the reported cost $3.2 billion, will not prevent massive price hikes on degrees.
“The only way to stop the Americanisation of Australia’s higher education system is to block the Government’s bill in its entirety.
“The only way to stop students from poorer backgrounds being priced out of a university education is to say no to all of the Government’s plans.
“The only way to stop regional campuses from closing is to stop Christopher Pyne’s uncontrolled experiment.
“Labor welcomes the crossbench Senators’ recognition of the crushing unfairness and inherent dangers of the Government’s proposals.
“Labor will fight the Abbott Government at every step and on every aspect of this appalling assault on Australia’s higher education system.”
SUNDAY, 30 NOVEMBER 2014