Nikolic must rethink higher education stance

Shadow Minister for Higher Education Senator Kim Carr and Labor Senator Helen Polley have once again called on Liberal Bass MP Andrew Nikolic to protect the future of higher education in northern Tasmania.


The appeal comes after Tony Abbott conceded over the weekend that the planned deregulation of the higher education sector will lead to fee increases.


During his remarks to the G20 leader’s retreat on Saturday the Prime Minister said:


We have tried to deregulate higher education, universities, and that's going to mean less central government spending and effectively more fees that students will have to pay.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, remarks at G20 Leaders’ retreat, 15 November 2014



Senator Carr said that Mr Abbott’s comments were revealing.


“We have heard again and again from this Government that Labor is overstating the impact that the proposed higher education reforms will have,” Senator Carr said.


“But when addressing the G20 Leaders’ retreat the Prime Minister conceded that students will have to pay more. They are completely unconcerned about what this will mean for prospective students who aren’t from privileged backgrounds.


“Just what kind of country do we want to have? What kind of higher education system should we aspire to? Because if Christopher Pyne and company get their way then opportunity will only be available to those with financial means.


“I would encourage anyone who hasn’t already to try out Labor’s online student debt sentence calculator and see for themselves just how expensive higher education could become. Unless we stop the Abbott Government’s proposed reforms $100,000 degrees will be a reality for many students in Australia.


Senator Polley said that Andrew Nikolic needed to consider just what these changes could mean for the people of Bass.


“On Saturday Mr Nikolic said that under the Abbott Government ‘higher education is guaranteed to be affordable and accessible for all Australians.’


“He clearly has his head in the sand because Christopher Pyne’s reforms will mean that a university education will not be an option for many people who cannot afford soaring hikes in fees.”


Senator Polley was also quick to repeat her call for Mr Nikolic to act in the interests of his constituents, rather than his own career progression.


“Mr Nikolic’s number one concern needs to be the people of Bass and whether these higher education changes will affect their capacity to obtain a university education.


“He has broken ranks on this issue once before, earlier this year he admitted that higher interest rates for student loans will hit Tasmanian students particularly hard.


“But that isn’t enough, he needs to lobby his colleagues and explain to them that many people in his electorate will not be able to afford fee increases proposed by Team Abbott.”