That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment (Senator Birmingham) to a question without notice asked by Senator Faruqi today relating to universities.
Guess which hypocrites got free uni education and are now trying to double the cost of degrees? At least 16 members of the government, including the Prime Minister, the foreign minister, the health minister, the skills minister and the communication minister! Every one of them was at uni while it was free, but they're planning to hike fees, condemn students to decades of debt, cut up to $900 million from teaching and learning, and punish struggling students, all while youth wage growth is the flattest in history and while unemployment is skyrocketing. The hypocrisy is gobsmacking. But the problems don't stop there. It won't create nearly enough new student places to match population growth amid new demand due to recession. The billions in student debt will disproportionately hit women. For regional universities, it's not just billions in extra debt for students; it's billions not being spent in those communities. The government's own officials admit the plan won't even encourage students to study the courses that they claim they care about, but it will encourage unis to enrol students in high-fee courses instead of STEM. Finally, it does nothing whatsoever to save uni jobs or fix the research crisis.
The good news is that the Senate can block this unfixable mess. I urge my colleagues on the crossbench to do just that. The Greens will be voting against this bill with all our might, and you can help by calling and emailing crossbench senators right now.
Question agreed to.