The 2016 Budget is just another attack by the Abbott/Turnbull Liberals on Australia’s innovation system, an attack that undermines growth, jobs and Australia’s future.
The hollow men of the Liberal Party are once again hiding behind a smoke screen, claiming that this Budget is about innovation when it will only mean more cuts for students, more cuts for researchers and more cuts for industry.
The Liberals are now planning to slash a further $2 billion from universities, with confirmation that they will cut funding for student places by 20 per cent from 2018 while continuing their ideological pursuit of deregulation.
The Liberals’ unfair and unnecessary plan for $100,000 degrees remains Malcolm Turnbull’s policy – it’s just been delayed a further 12 months and hidden behind the fig leaf of a shallow discussion paper.
The Liberals’ cuts will hit the disadvantaged in our community the hardest, attacking vital equity and quality programs that help the most disadvantaged Australians access and thrive in higher education and help improve teaching quality.
While Senator Birmingham’s paper talks up the importance of equity and quality, the Budget slashes funding for the Higher Education Participation Program and the Office of Learning and Teaching by a further $180 million – on top of the $208 million cut from equity and quality programs over the past two Budgets.
The Liberals have overseen two years of waste in VET FEE-HELP, with taxpayers’ funds flowing to the shonks and sharks that have been ripping off students – and now the best they can come up with is an ad campaign. There’s nothing in the Budget to hold dodgy providers to account or limit the damage they can do.
Tony Abbott’s war on science continues unabated under Malcolm Turnbull. The first two Liberal Budgets saw more than $3 billion ripped from innovation, science and research – all with Malcolm Turnbull’s full support – and this Budget does nothing to reverse those cuts.
For all the Liberals’ big talk about supporting innovation, this Budget only cuts education, skills and Australia’s innovation capacity. Australia cannot have a strong innovation system when Budget after Budget it is continually cut to the bone.