Australians are right to feel confused, fearful and betrayed after Education Minister Christopher Pyne has again misled the public by contradicting his department’s website during a television interview this morning.
“Today, as on previous occasions, Minister Pyne said university students enrolled before the Budget on 13 May 2014 would not be hit by higher interest rates on their student debts – this is wrong," Shadow Higher Education Minister Kim Carr said today
“On television today, he said that students currently enrolled would have their student debts grandfathered under current arrangements until 2020.
“His department’s website makes it very clear that this is not the case.”
FRAN KELLY: Just to be clear, though, those students who are enrolling now or next year, they will be repaying their HECS debt at the higher rate, won't they?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Anybody who was enrolled before May 14, nothing will change in terms of their arrangements.
KELLY: The HECS debt will always stay at CPI into the future until it is paid off.
PYNE: They are grandfathered until they finish their courses, which is by 2020 in most cases. Anybody who enrols from January 1, 2016 will face the new arrangements from the time they enrol. Anybody who enrols between the Budget and December 31 next year will face the new arrangements from January 1 and the current arrangements until that time.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE – ABC INSIDERS – SUNDAY, 1 JUNE 2014
But his own department's website reads:
The new arrangements will apply to all Help debts (including those incurred by former students, continuing students and new students) beginning with the indexation of debts on 1 June, 2016.
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, STUDY ASSIST WEBSITE
“The Minister clearly refuses to come to grips with his own shambolic policy and admit that it will have a devastating impact not only on future students, but many existing students and graduates,” Senator Carr said.
“It’s absolutely clear that anyone, including current and past students, with a HECS/HELP debt after 1 January 2016 will be hit with a new higher interest rate of up to 6 per cent per annum.
“It’s well overdue for Mr Pyne to acquaint himself with that aspect of his policy and stop misleading the public.
"How can Mr Pyne ever understand how much his government is hurting students if he doesn't understand his own policies?
“It’s also time he stopped dismissing the implications of saddling young people and their families with crippling fees and debts that could take decades to pay off.
“We have university vice-chancellors warning that fees for some degrees will double, and even treble, just to cover the Abbott Government’s cuts to course subsidies.
“This is just the beginning. The revelation that fees for the top universities could rise by between 55 and 60 per cent just to make up for Abbott’s cuts makes a lie of the repeated assurances that some university fees will go down.
“The reality is that all fees at universities will increase as the government imposes a massive cut on universities and shifts more and more costs on to students and their families.
“Labor will not support a system of higher fees, bigger student debt, reduced access and greater inequality.
“We will never tell Australians that the quality of their education depends on their capacity to pay.”
SUNDAY, 1 JUNE 2014