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Bob McMullan is right: universities must know where Labor plans to cut.

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Media Release


June 27, 2004 MIN 772/04

Labor’s Finance spokesperson Bob McMullan has today trapped Mark Latham.

Speaking on Network Ten’s Meet the Press Mr McMullan effectively committed Labor to immediately and fully explaining its underfunding of universities.

“...we are getting on with the hard task of making savings. It's never easy. It's never popular, but if you want to have a program of social spending and be economically responsible you've got to make hard decisions to join those two things up.”

Bob McMullan, Meet the Press, June 27, 2004

Mark Latham must today explain to the Australian people and to universities exactly how Labor plans to provide more than $1.1 billion in compensation to universities with the $15 million dollar fund it has allocated in Labor’s Higher Education policy!

Universities are now varying HECS contributions up and down. A basic three year science degree which costs $16,100 today will require a student contribution of, at the very most, $20,500. HECS is an interest free loan which students only need to start to repay when earning more than $35,000.

Every HECS dollar stays in the university to improve quality.

Based on universities which have made decisions across the sector, these increases mean at least an additional $830 million in revenue for universities over four years.

This is revenue which will be lost to universities if Labor has its way.

In addition the Labor Party says it will be axing the places filled by around 11,000 fee paying Australian students - whilst retaining the fee paying places for overseas students.

Labor’s education spokesperson Jenny Macklin, recently committed Labor to compensating universities for this change as well.

“The University (of Sydney) is assuming $30 million from HECS increases by 2008 and $20 million from full fee places. By then the full impact of Labor’s generous policies will have taken effect, and they certainly will not be $50 million out of pocket”(emphasis added)

Jenny Macklin, The Australian newspaper, June 16, 2004

It is entirely up to universities if they create additional places and offer them to fee paying Australians alongside overseas students.

The revenue generated for universities through fee paying Australian places over the next four years will be at least $350 million.

If Labor is indeed to fully compensate universities for lost revenue therefore it would need to find at least $830 million plus at least $350 million over four years.

In other words if Labor’s compensation promises are to be believed, Labor’s universities package is gutted by almost $1.2 billion.

The Labor university package is fast disappearing into a black hole. Vice-Chancellors are realising that a Labor government would mean less money for universities.

Media Contact: Dr Nelson’s Office: Ross Hampton 0419 484 095