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Liberal fundraiser linked to private company set to profit from government higher education changes

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 30 May 2014

Greens spokesperson for democracy Senator Lee Rhiannon has written to ICAC requesting  that they investigate prominent Liberal fundraiser Paul Nicolaou’s links to Group Colleges Australia (http://bit.ly/1kmQpd2), which is set to receive government funding under the Coalition government’s changes to higher education.

“Our research reveals Group Colleges Australia has donated over $74 ,000 to the Liberal Party since 2009,” Senator Rhiannon said. 

"Non-Executive Director Paul Nicolaou, Managing Director Alan Manly and General Manager Jenny McCarthy are all part of Group Colleges Australia according to the company’s website. Mr Nicolaou is a former chair of the Liberal fund-raising body, the Millennium Forum.

“Our research reveals Mr Manly and Ms McCarthy have both made private donations to the Liberals of just over $11 000.

"Mr Nicolaou is the subject of an ICAC investigation for alleged illegal political fundraising. 

"Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Education Minister Christopher Pyne should immediately disclose if they or anyone in the NSW Liberal Party were lobbied by Group Colleges Australia about policy changes to higher education. 

"This company, Group Colleges Australia, is about to benefit from the Abbott government’s radical reforms to higher education that will see millions of dollars of public money flow to private for profit higher education companies.

"If the Abbott government has its way, universities will be forced to compete with private for profit higher education companies for government funding. 

“Legislation is also in place that will weaken TEQSA, Australia's independent national regulator of the higher education sector, in ways which will benefit for profit private higher education companies. 

"Considering the seriousness of these allegations the federal government should, at a minimum, halt changes to the higher education sector until this matter is fully investigated,” Senator Rhiannon said.

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