Nikolic must ensure future of higher education in Bass

Tasmanian Labor Senator Helen Polley has repeated calls for Liberal Bass MP Andrew Nikolic to protect the future of higher education in northern Tasmania.


The fresh appeal comes at a time when the future of the University of Tasmania in the north of the state remains mired in uncertainty.


Senator Polley warned that the $453 million restructure of UTAS was merely conjecture at this stage since the Government’s plan B bill introduced into Parliament last Wednesday did not detail funding of this nature.   

“From what I understand no extra money has been offered to UTAS or it would be in this second bill,” Senator Polley said.  


Senator Polley urged Tasmanians not to be fooled by the Government’s new bill.


“The Government has now introduced another flawed higher education bill into the House of Representatives, but in terms of the impact on regional universities, it is a carbon copy of the one that was rejected in the Senate last week.”


Senator Polley also raised concerns about the taxpayer-funded advertising campaign launched by the Abbott Government to sell a second deregulation bill.


“This new advertising campaign is a pathetic and wasteful use of taxpayer funds for political purposes. This is a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign by the Liberal party to promote a policy that will limit the opportunities for Tasmanians to go to university,” Senator Polley said.  


Senator Polley said Mr Nikolic needed to focus on the people of Bass and a growth strategy for the region rather than advocating for a bill which disadvantages Tasmanians.


“I don’t think Mr Nikolic understands the importance of higher education remaining accessible to all Tasmanians. We must invest in our higher education infrastructure across all regions in Tasmania,” Senator Polley said.


Youth unemployment in northern Tasmania stands at 18 per cent and Tasmania traditionally suffers from low levels of higher education uptake.


“I hold concerns about UTAS’s campuses in Newnham and Inveresk after talk that they may be condensed and unable to compete with the Hobart campus,” Senator Polley said.


“As leading economist Saul Eslake has said, the northern campuses may be viewed as second class if they are reduced to teaching-only institutions.”


“Excellent university research attracts good academics and students, who engage with local businesses and boost the local economy. That benefit shouldn’t be restricted to Hobart.”