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Backing out of Australia's future.

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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator Natasha Stott Despoja Democrats Senator for South Australia Australian Democrats spokesperson for Higher Education

Dated: 30 April 2005

Press Release Number: 05/210 Portfolio: Higher Education

Backing out of Australia's future

The Education Minister, Dr Brendan Nelson, is arrogantly backing out of the original compromise on the Higher Education Workplace Relations Requirements (HEWRR), blithely assuming that the Senate can do little to stop him after June, according to the Australian Democrats.

Democrats' Higher Education Spokesperson, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja said the new requirements mean even more red tape for universities despite the Minister supposedly wanting to reduce it.

"This has nothing to do with improving competitiveness or productivity, and everything to do with the Government forcing their draconian workplace relations ideology on to universities," Senator Stott Despoja said.

"Student to staff ratios have increased by a third since 1996. Any further 'productivity increases' will have a serious impact on the quality of education our students receive.

"Undermining university staff conditions by forcing universities to offer AWA's will do nothing to improve the attractiveness of Australian universities to international academics and researchers.

"The degree of control that this Minister is exercising over universities is ridiculous given the steadily decreasing funding on offer. Universities are becoming policy puppets for the Minister rather than autonomous centres for the advancement of knowledge and education.

"Threatening funding cuts to universities is no way to run a public higher education system.

"The Government has duped the four Independent Senators who voted for higher education legislation changes in 2003. These Senators must yet again hang their heads in shame.

"The Government declared that last year's election was about trust, but after their empty promise on indexation of university grants and now changing the HEWRR's in only their second year of operation, it is clear that this Government cannot be trusted on any issue.

"This announcement is a serious warning to all other sectors about what they can expect when the Government gains control of the Senate in July," concluded Senator Stott Despoja.