The Abbott government’s refusal to release higher education modelling documents arguing that it would be contrary to the public interest is jaw dropping says Australian Greens spokesperson for higher education Senator Lee Rhiannon.
“Refusing to produce the Senate’s request for higher education policy costings is yet another arrogant and misguided move by a government that is majestically unravelling,” said Senator Rhiannon.
“Last week, the Senate passed a Greens motion calling on the Abbott government to release documents related to the modelling or costings of their higher education bill which included the deregulation of universities.
“Assistant Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham’s letter in reply said that he would not action the request of the Senate as ‘it would be contrary to the public interest to do so’.
“It is jaw-dropping that the transparency of higher education policy costings according to the Abbott government ‘is not in the public interest’.
“Higher education is a public interest. The shifting of public money to private enterprises should be held up to public scrutiny.
“Cutting funding to public universities and TAFEs is most certainly in the public interest.
“Making students and their families pay more money to subsidise private education companies is also in the public interest.
“I will be using formal processes of the Senate to pursue this call for documents and will continue to remind the Abbott government that you can’t spend more than $8 million of public money trying to push a twice failed higher education bill, and then hide under the pretence of ‘public interest’,” said Senator Rhiannon.
The letter from Senator Simon Birmingham can be provided on request.
Contact: Brami Jegan 0487 350 880
Greens motion agreed to by the Senate on 12 August 2015
Senator Rhiannon: To move—That there be laid on the table by the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Training, no later than 11 am on Wednesday, 19 August 2015, all documents held by the Government in relation to the modelling or costings of impacts of the Government‘s proposed changes to higher education or funding for students, universities or other related changes regarding higher education not previously provided to the Senate, including but not limited to:
(a) the impact of removing caps on university fees charged to students;
(b) calculations of the potential impact on student fees, accumulated student HELP debt and loan costs, and interest rates where applicable;
(c) the effects of accumulated fee and loan costs for female graduates over their working lives;
(d) the level of public funding to public and for-profit higher and VET education providers, including potential cost of cuts for individual institutions;
(e) cuts to course funding;
(f) the assessment of impacts of deregulation and funding on regional public universities; and
(g) access by lower income, regional and other students suffering disadvantage to a full choice of university courses.