SHADOW MINISTER FOR HIGHER EDUCATION SENATOR KIM CARR: Minister Pyne has today confirmed that the Government is seeking to introduce a great big new tax, this time for students.


The Minster has acknowledged that he has been working with the cross-benchers to implement a plan by Professor Bruce Chapman, a plan described by Professor Bruce Chapman as a tax, a plan described by Mr Andrew Norton, the Government’s adviser, as a tax.


The Government’s proposal would affect all students at universities, not just the students at the Group of Eight, and would be a recipe for further cuts to higher education. It is a plan that would actually require the Government to collect enormous amounts of material for the 10,000 courses that are operating across Australia.


So in the name of deregulation, the Government would want to centralise information to secure additional cuts to university and a great big new tax for students.



JOURNALIST: Do you believe that the policy will drive up university fees?


CARR: That’s what the British Government said because a similar proposal was put to a Tory government in England and they said they could not support it because it would actually be inflationary.


A proposal like this would not only see further cuts to universities, but it would see increases in fees for students and now a double taxation hit. A tax when you go to university and then of course a massive increase in your HECS liabilities.


The British Government calls it an inflationary measure, I call it a tax by the back door and this is a device that is actually much, much worse than the Government’s original proposals.


JOURNALIST: The design that is being [Inaudible] capped fees or discouraged as a disincentive for universities to impose those high fees, you don’t believe that it will work in that way?


CARR: On the contrary, this is a plan that would actually see fees skyrocket. What the Government is proposing to do is to reduce the grants to universities and return that money to consolidated revenue.


The Government would in fact force universities to increase fees, and remember that some of their cuts in agriculture, science and engineering would see massive increases being required simply to cover the loss of government revenue.


So the Government would cut funding to universities, the universities would be obliged to charge higher fees, and as a consequence students would be paying more tax.


So this plan would be inflationary and remember the cost of university education flows through the CPI, so it would ultimately affect all Australians, because of its inflationary impact. 


JOURNALIST: Does it have any support of the universities as far as you’re aware?


CARR: I’m not aware of anyone that’s prepared to back this in.


Now I know that some vice‑chancellors will be prepared to do anything to get the opportunity to charge whatever they like, that’s not in the best interest of Australia, that’s not in the best interest of students, and that’s not in the best interest of universities.


This is a crazy plan, a $100,000 degree plan, which has now been confirmed. Remember the Government has said all along that there wouldn’t be price‑gouging, competition would drive prices down. They are now acknowledging that the Government’s plans would see increases in fees, increases in prices and we would see a situation where many Australians would be priced out of a quality education.               



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