TRANSCRIPT: DOORSTOP SYDNEY MONDAY, 1 MAY 2017

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP
SYDNEY
MONDAY, 1 MAY 2017

SUBJECT: Liberals’ cuts to unis and $100 000 degrees; Liberals’ $50 billion tax cut for big business and the banks.

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP

SYDNEY

MONDAY, 1 MAY 2017

 

SUBJECT: Liberals’ cuts to unis and $100 000 degrees; Liberals’ $50 billion tax cut for big business and the banks.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well thank you for coming out this afternoon. Simon Birmingham, the Education Minister has called university leaders down to Canberra this evening to spill the worst kept secret of this year’s Federal Budget, which is that universities will have their funding cut, and students will be paying more for university degrees. We’ve heard 48 hours of speculation now about just how much university degrees will increase in cost. Yesterday, a big leak from the government suggested that courses will be going up by at least 25 per cent. This is a return to the 2014 Budget of Tony Abbott, the $100 000 university degrees. And universities are being told that they’ve been overfunded. The Government has released information today suggesting that universities will receive an efficiency dividend of two or three per cent because they’re being funded more than they need to teach students - these cuts to universities come at a time when the Government is proposing to give away $50 billion in a big business tax giveaway. Now we know that company profits increased by about 65 per cent last year, and of course, that’s a great thing for Australian companies. But to, on top of that, now propose a $50 billion big business tax cut that will be paid for by jacking up university fees, by cutting support to universities, just makes no sense. We know that investment in education has long-term benefits, not just for individuals, but for the Australian economy. We know that a dollar invested in universities gives a $26 return to our nation’s wealth. So to be cutting support for universities at this time makes absolutely no sense.

 

JOURNALIST: The Government’s partly relying on the fact that in 2013 Labor announced an efficiency dividend for university funding. Is it harder to argue against the cut when Labor announced something so similar?

 

PLIBERSEK: Well I think it’s laughable that the Government would try and portray Labor’s university funding and the Liberals’ university funding as in any way similar. Universities under Labor, when we were last in government, went from funding at around $8 billion a year, to funding of around $14 billion a year. At the time of the last election, Labor had a proposal to increase university funding by $14 billion over the decade, and the Liberals had a policy to cut university funding by $12 billion over the decade. There’s just no comparison. Labor uncapped places at university, we invested in research infrastructure and, as I say, during our time in government we almost doubled annual funding to universities.

 

JOURNALIST: I mean the Deloitte report figures have growth in funding at 15 per cent, got growth in cost of delivery at 9.5 per cent. Does that not show that there’s maybe room to trim?

 

PLIBERSEK: Well isn’t it surprising that when the Government commissions a company to do a report to justify cuts to university funding and increases to student costs, the report comes out saying we should cut university funding and increase students costs? I don’t think this report has any credibility. Universities will tell you that they have already had their funding cut by billions of dollars under this Government, and to cut further would make delivering a really good quality education to young Australians very difficult.

 

JOURNALIST: Do you think we might see universities close if this goes through?

 

PLIBERSEK: Look it depends on the scale of the cuts, but some universities will tell you that their funding situation is already perilous. Now, we agree that every single dollar of taxpayer’s money should be wisely spent, but we also know that universities in Australia deliver a high-quality education to young Australians and, incidentally, also to many overseas students who contribute to our national income by coming here and spending their hard-earned dollars in Australia to get an education in the high-quality Australian education system. But as well as these personal benefits, there are national benefits in investing in a high-quality university sector, not just for the graduates that universities turn out, but for the first-rate research that Australian universities are doing.

 

JOURNALIST:  Do you see any benefit from the tax cuts?

 

PLIBERSEK: Well look, over time of course we always look to get taxes down, but at a time when the deficit has tripled, $100 billion has been added to net debt and the Government is saying we should pay for tax cuts by slashing education, slashing Medicare, slashing the pension, hurting families through Family Tax Benefit cuts, then no, it’s not the right time. Australia must protect the AAA credit ratings that Labor first won when we were in office and we must ensure that we invest in productivity-enhancing spending like having a great health system, like investing in infrastructure, like having a first-rate education system. Now is not the time to give away $50 billion of tax revenue which will mostly flow to overseas shareholders, $7.6 billion will go to the four big banks. Alright, thanks everyone.

  

ENDS