Pyne uses taxpayer funds for false advertising on higher ed

The taxpayer-funded advertising campaign launched by the Abbott Government is misleading and makes false claims about how much students will have to pay under its unfair higher education package.

Labor is pursuing an official complaint with the Secretary of the Department of Finance alleging that the campaign is in breach of the Short-term Interim Guidelines on Information and Advertising Campaigns by Australian Government Departments and Agencies (June 2014).

The ad campaign is an atrocious waste and inappropriate use of taxpayer money for political purposes. This is a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign by the Liberal party to promote a policy that is unfair, unpopular and unnecessary.

The claims the Government is making in its television and radio ads are demonstrably untrue and the misleading advertisements should be immediately withdrawn.

Australians know plenty about Tony Abbott’s plan for $100,000 degrees – they know how unfair it is.   

It’s the substance that’s the problem, not the spin.  Australians don’t support Tony Abbott trying to Americanise our universities.  

Christopher Pyne needs to come clean and admit how much this campaign is costing taxpayers and why he tried to hide its very existence last week, when the campaign was only days away from being launched and his departmental secretary had signed off on the campaign on 25 November.

The Guidelines require that “where information is presented as fact, the information is accurate and verifiable”. The Abbott Government’s higher education advertising campaign clearly fails to meet this and other criteria.

The Government claims “the Australian Government will continue to pay around half your undergraduate degree.” (www.highered.gov.au)

This is neither accurate nor verifiable, rather it is completely false and misleading.

Only two universities have publicly advised what their fees will be if the Government’s unfair package passes the parliament. Both reveal students will be paying up to 90 per cent of the cost of their undergraduate degrees with the Government contribution falling as low as 10 per cent.

Under the University of Western Australia’s announced fee structure, Commerce students will pay almost 90 per cent of the cost of their degrees, Arts students will pay almost 74 per cent and even Science students will pay more than 57 per cent.

Figures published by the Queensland University of Technology last Friday show Business students will pay 88 per cent of the cost of their degrees, Law and Business/Law students would pay 89 per cent and IT students would pay 55 per cent.

By allowing universities to set their own fees, while at the same time cutting their funding by 20 per cent, the Abbott Government is virtually guaranteeing the opposite of what they are promising in these ads: students will pay far more for their degrees, and the Government will contribute less.

Under the Abbott Government’s plan there is no limit on how much universities will be able to charge. 

The Government will have no control over how much students will have to pay to get a tertiary education. It will be open slather and students and their families will pick up the tab.

The Abbott Government’s unfair higher education changes have already been defeated once in the Senate and there is a very real prospect they will be defeated again.

The Abbott Government’s decision to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on false advertising to try and convince the Senate to pass this dud package is an absolute disgrace.

TUESDAY, 9 DECEMBER 2014


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