The Abbott Government must capitulate on its attempt to blackmail and intimidate the Senate over its unfair and unnecessary policy of $100,000 degrees.

Labor will today table a notice of motion calling on the Government to immediately release the research infrastructure funding it is holding hostage.

This motion has been co-sponsored by Senators Lambie, Lazarus, Muir, Madigan, Rhiannon, Wang and Xenophon.

The Abbott Government is shamelessly threatening to destroy the future of scientific research in Australia unless it gets its plans for $100,000 degrees through the Parliament.

The Government’s attempt to hold the jobs of 1,700 scientists hostage is immoral and unethical, as well as short-sighted and stupid.

There is no link between the funding of research infrastructure through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) and the flawed universities bill, other than the political link made by the blackmail threat.

When the Government was elected, NCRIS had 21 months of secure funding, so the claim made by Christopher Pyne on Insiders is factually wrong.

The Abbott Government’s deregulation of university fees will put a quality higher education out of the reach of ordinary Australians.

Labor will never walk away from our commitment to equity. We will never promote policies that reduce opportunities for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds.

There are 190,000 more students at university today because of Labor, including 36,000 from low-income families.

We want more students from disadvantaged backgrounds to have the opportunity to go to university and to succeed, not less.

It is time for the Education Minister to admit his policy is unfair and accept defeat with good grace, rather than resorting to increasingly desperate distractions and threats.

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