Responding to a question in the Senate today from Greens higher education spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon, Minister Don Farrell chose to play dumb and deny that the government's $900 million cut to base funding will impact pay and conditions for university staff, despite university management saying otherwise in campus industrial disputes.
"Labor looked in a sorry state today with the Minister avoiding the reality that the $900 million cut to base funding is at least partly responsible for threats to pay and conditions for staff", said Senator Rhiannon.
"Labor cannot play dumb on this issue when university management in industrial disputes around the country are using their financial position as a result of the cuts as a reason to refuse to meet moderate demands for above inflation pay rises and better job security.
"Staff and students are right to be disappointed that a Labor government chooses to whitewash this reality rather than give a clear commitment to the rights of academic and general staff.
"Universities including Swinburne, RMIT, Monash and Sydney are all in the throes of industrial action. Campuses such as UNSW are due to start bargaining this year.
"The Government should do the right thing by staff and students and reverse their cuts", said Senator Rhiannon.