The Senate Inquiry hearing into higher education in Brisbane today has heard evidence that the Abbott Government’s planned university loan interest hikes could stop mature-aged students in regional areas from studying.
Senator RHIANNON (New South Wales) (17:10): The higher education package that the government has put before us is very troubling because what it would do to Australia in the long term is extremely serious. It would rip billions of dollars of funding from our public universities, it would put enormous hardship on our students and their families and it would really change the make-up of the types of people who would have the opportunity to gain an education.
The Greens have condemned Labor’s deal to support more than $400 million in cuts to student support as a slap in the face to students who trusted Bill Shorten’s recent pledge to block higher education changes.
Labor and the Coalition waived through the cuts in the House of Representatives this morning.
Senator RHIANNON (New South Wales) (09:32): I follow my colleague Senator Siewert, who has led for the Greens on these bills, setting out our clear opposition and why that opposition needs to be loud and very clear.
Commenting on reports that the university sector want the Senate minor parties and independents to cut a deal on Christopher Pyne's higher education reforms (http://bit.ly/1CLpPHr), Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon said:
"Instead of putting pressure on Senators to support the Coalition's regressive and discriminatory changes to higher education, Universities Australia would better off calling on the government to boost public funding to universities.
The Greens say Christopher Pyne's higher education plan does nothing more than slam the door on opportunity for millions of Australians.
"The Greens will not support Mr Pyne's legislative package that massively cuts government funding to higher education, adds to the financial burden students are under and strips away opportunities," Greens higher education spokesperson Senator Rhiannon said.
Responding to reports that the Abbott government may threaten to slash to research funding in a bid to advance its university cuts agenda, Australian Greens research spokesperson and Deputy Leader, Adam Bandt, said the Greens won’t give in to blackmail.
“If Tony Abbott threatens cuts to research funding, he will be met with the mother of all protests,” said Mr Bandt.
Sydney University's $1 million investment in the controversial Whitehaven coalmine will mean enormous damage for the institution's reputation unless they move quickly to withdraw the investment and apologise to impacted Aboriginal elders and locals, the Greens have warned.