The Abbott Government’s misleading, taxpayer-funded higher education advertising campaign has been exposed as a political sham and a complete waste of money.
While the Government continues to keep the cost of what must be a multi-million dollar campaign secret, contracts published on AusTender reveal it has now spent more than half a million dollars on market research.
Yet a survey commissioned by the National Tertiary Education Union found that three quarters of people surveyed hadn’t even seen the ads.
Of those who had seen the ads, more than half thought their purpose was political: an attempt by the Abbott Government to sell its grotesquely unfair higher education changes.
Less than 12 per cent thought the purpose of the advertising campaign was to inform students of the benefits of a university degree.
And the public certainly isn’t buying Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne’s dud package.
A third of respondents were actually less favourable to the Abbott Government’s plans to deregulate university fees after having seen the ads.
If the Abbott Government wants to engage in political advertising, then the Liberal Party should foot the bill, not taxpayers. And survey respondents agree.
Fifty-five per cent thought it was “inappropriate and unacceptable for the Abbott Government to spend public money to make the case for its higher education [changes]”.
This advertising campaign has nothing to do with providing information to students. It is political advertising by the Abbott Government in a blatant attempt to sell its unfair higher education package – a package it didn’t dare put to voters at the last election, and which has been rejected by the Senate.
Labor has yet to receive a response to the official complaint we lodged about the false and misleading nature of the advertising campaign.
Telling students that the Government will pay “around half” of the cost of their degrees is wrong and deliberately dishonest – the fee schedules released to date show students will be paying as much as 90 per cent of their course costs.
This higher education package breaks Tony Abbott’s election pledge that there would be “no cuts to education” by slashing 20 per cent of universities’ funding.
It will privatise Australia’s public higher education system, limit opportunities for Australians aspiring to gain an affordable tertiary qualification, and saddle students with $100,000 degrees and a lifetime of debt.
Labor will continue to fight these unfair plans and do everything we can to see them voted down in the Senate for a second time.