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Labor opposes fee deregulation.

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Media Release Jenny MacklinMP

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Deputy Leader of the Opposition

Shadow Minister for Employment, Education, Training & Science Federal Member for Jagajaga


Deputy Labor leader Jenny Macklin today pledged Labor’s opposition to Howard Government plans to deregulate university fees and let universities increase HECS.

Ms Macklin said that by deregulating fees the Howard Government wanted to dump the cost of higher education onto students and their families.

“This government has walked away from its responsibilities in higher education. At a time when most other developed countries are increasing their investment in universities, the Howard Government is winding its commitment back,” Ms Macklin said.

“Since it was elected the Howard Government has ripped more than $5 billion out of higher education, leaving cash-strapped universities with little option but the cut the number of places in courses.

“Those students that do manage to get a place are being hit with ever-increasing HECS debts.

“Young people are already leaving our universities saddled with debts of up to $30,000 or more,” she said. “That makes for a tough start in life, but if fees are deregulated the level of debt will soar.”

Ms Macklin said she was alarmed at reports the Howard Government was looking at ways to deprive university staff of the right to strike, including by declaring universities suppliers of essential services.

“If the Howard Government truly believed universities provided essential services, they would not have cut more than $5 billion from university funding, leaving many institutions on the brink financially,” she said.

“Labor does believe that universities are essential to Australia’s future. That’s why government investment in education should be going up, not down. We should be encouraging young people to undertake higher education, not saddling them and their families with enormous debts,” she said.

More information: Adrian Rollins, 0438 950 375