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Latham calls for Universities to deregulate fees.

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Media Release


2 December, 2003 MIN 547/03

The new leader of the federal Labor Party is honour bound to immediately pass the Government’s $2.4 billion dollar higher education reform package, as Labor can no longer claim it honestly opposes partial fee deregulation for Australia’s universities.

According to Mr Latham, the most popular universities should have their public finances cut back and, as a trade off, be able to charge students whatever they wish for their courses. This is a policy of complete fee deregulation, for at least some universities, without a price ceiling.

Mr Latham lists four types of Australian universities to be funded in different ways; a group of free public universities, a group funded along current lines, a group of private universities and:

“A group of internationally focussed institutions, with a greater emphasis on private revenue sources than public money. They would need to make strong use of their large endowments and positional goods. Their fees would be de-regulated, with the equity role of government pursued through publicly funded, means tested scholarships. This group might include universities such as Queensland, New South Wales, Macquarie, Melbourne, Monash, Adelaide and Western Australia.”

Mark Latham, The Network University - in the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, Volume 23, No1, 2001 (emphasis added)

The Government does not agree with Mr Latham’s proposition.

Under the Government’s reform package, universities, at their request, will be able to vary their HECS charges from $0 to a maximum 30% above current rates (except for nursing and teaching students whose fees can only go down).

This limited deregulation was the principal reason cited by Labor under Simon Crean for voting against the Government’s $2.4 billion dollar reform package - a package which will deliver hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of additional places to Australia’s universities.

As Mark Latham’s Labor is clearly not opposed to partial deregulation, Labor must now

support the Government’s package.

Mark Latham said today:

“I’m not here as opposition for opposition’s sake. I’m here to do the right thing by Australia’s national interest.” Mark Latham, Parliament House Press

Conference, 2 December, 2003

It is time to see if he is a man of his word.

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