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Nelson's heavy-handed interference in Australian universities.

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Media Release Jenny MacklinMP

Deputy Leader of the Opposition Shadow Minister for Employment, Education & Training Federal Member for Jagajaga


Reports today that the Howard Government is planning to deny university union staff - academic and student - access to university campus facilities, once again demonstrates the Howard Government’s heavy-handed intervention in Australian universities.

Under Brendan Nelson’s higher education changes, $404 million funding is conditional not on educational requirements, but on universities implementing the Howard Government’s draconian industrial relations agenda.

This is an agenda about forcing our university staff onto contracts that will undermine job security and their independence.

The Age has reported today that the Howard Government is looking at forcing universities to deny union staff access to office space and equipment in order to comply with the Government’s industrial relations policies.

Given reports that many universities provide these facilities to union staff as part of enterprise agreements, it appears now that Brendan Nelson is willing to rip up these agreements - an act that would threaten the pay and conditions of our university staff.

This is a vindictive, unnecessary and ill-thought attack on organisations that promote the interests of university students and staff.

Brendan Nelson has clearly adopted Tony Abbott’s and John Howard’s ideological agenda in this blatant attempt to blackmail Australian universities.

Labor believes that universities should focus on their core business of teaching and research - not on the Howard Government’s extreme industrial relations agenda.

It is clear what Brendan Nelson’s priorities are: increasing job insecurity for university staff and increasing fees and debt for Australian students and their families.

6 August 2003

Media Contact : Shannon Rees 0409 805 330