The Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham, must use his address to the AFR Higher Education Summit this morning to refute the Liberal Government’s cowardly threats to cut funding for research and science at Australia’s universities.

The threats – made via an unsourced newspaper article yesterday – suggested that the Government would resort to cutting research funding for universities if the Senate blocks the Liberals unfair and unnecessary cuts to universities, and fee slugs for students.

Labor condemns these threats, and the attempt to subvert the will of the Australian Parliament.

This is a government that has form on taking Australia’s best and brightest hostage.

Before the last election, the Liberals resorted to threatening the job security of thousands of scientists to try and blackmail the Senate into passing their policy of university fee deregulation and $100,000 degrees.

And this is all while the government is trying to ram a bill through Parliament to abolish the $3.8 billion Education Investment Fund (EIF) – a fund that should be used to improve the nation’s TAFE, university and research infrastructure. 

Now it seems the Liberals are prepared to threaten the research budgets of Australia’s entire university sector to get their way.

Thousands of scientists, academics and research students could be affected by these moves.

Minister Birmingham must rule out now any sneaky backdoor cuts to the Research Support Program, Research Training Program or the Australian Research Council programs.

Labor will not be swayed by this inept blackmail, and nor will the Australian people.

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