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Mark Latham digs himself into a $1.2 billion university funding hole.

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Media Release


July 22, 2004 MIN 814/04

Opposition Leader Mark Latham has, it seems, made another policy reversal via talkback radio.

The Labor Party’s Education Spokesperson, Jenny Macklin, has been insisting for months that Labor would find the $1.2 billion it needs to fund its pledge to reverse HECS increases and ban full fee paying Australians from university simply by gutting its higher education package.

Ms Macklin said universities would be fully compensated for losing the HECS rises through indexation and through Labor’s $450 million “university of the 21st Century” fund.

Courier Mail, May 1, 2004

Now however Mark Latham has done another radio - reversal of policy. Mr Latham says in fact the $1.2 billion will be found from unspecified cuts to other services and programmes!

Mark Latham: I mean if you’re 18 years of age and you’ve got some good school results - I mean this is a decision of a lifetime and surely we should be making that decision easier by reversing the 25% increase in HECS.

Ross Davie: It’s a lot of money, where does it come from if you do reverse it?

Latham: Well we’ve identified savings, ways in which we reprioritise government spending...

Miller and Davie Programme, Brisbane 4BC, July 20, 2004(emphasis added)

If Mark Latham is right the Australian people will be paying much more for some unspecified services on Labor’s hit list.

If Jenny Macklin is right Labor’s universities package is to be gutted to the tune of $1.2 billion and universities will be worse off.

Both can’t be right. Which is it Mr Latham?

Media contact: Dr Nelson’s Office Ross Hampton 0419 484095


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, this is $830 million in additional revenue which will be lost to universities if Labor has its way and reverses the fee changes.

Furthermore the Labor Party says it will be axing the places filled by 11,000 fee paying Australian students - whilst retaining the fee paying places for overseas students. Labor’s education spokesperson Jenny Macklin, has claimed Labor would compensate 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.

Under Labor universities therefore stand to lose at least $830 million plus at least $350 million over four years - or around $1.2 billion.

Jenny Macklin clearly understands universities will be losing revenue if Labor gains Government. She said as much to Tim Cox on ABC Radio Tasmania:

Jenny Macklin: You’d be aware of course that the university of Tasmania has decided not