Bad Policy does not equal Good Government


Wednesday 11th February, 2015

On Monday Prime Minister Tony Abbott declared that “good government starts today”. Regrettably, the first three days of this new era of “good government” have been spent flogging the dead horse of his discredited higher education package.

“The proposal to introduce fee deregulation and cut university funding has been rejected by the Senate and rejected by the public,” said Ms Rachel Withers, President of the University of Melbourne Student Union.

Ms Withers added, “If the Abbott Government is going to be a good government, it should ditch its current higher education policies and look at ways to improve the capacity of Australia’s universities to offer a rewarding and transformative experience.”

“The almost-spill happened for a reason. It happened because a range of people are disillusioned with Abbott and this government- and his party is acutely aware of this.”

“Fee deregulation will have a serious and long-term negative impact on how Australians view tertiary education. It will discourage people—particularly people from lower socio-economic backgrounds —from taking up the opportunity of university education,” said Ms Withers.

Ms Withers went on to say, “The government has not got the message that university deregulation and funding cuts are unsound, economically inefficient ideas. These proposals are resoundingly unpopular with students and with the general public – this is not ‘good government’.”

“Many students on my campus are already struggling with their study, work and life balance, and the proposed changes will have an enormous negative impact on students who feel an overwhelming mountain of debt rising in their future – this is not ‘good government’.”

“The government’s plan to introduce fees for research-based higher degrees and cuts to research funding and the CSIRO will wreck Australia’s research capability and will force the best and brightest out of Australia. It is emblematic of the fend-for-yourself attitude that underscores this package – this is not ‘good government’.”

“Students are not going to stop fighting against deregulation and neglect of public funding for universities. Our resistance is also about looking out for the students who come after us, and making sure Australia has the world-class education system that is sustainable, equitable and can prosper into the future.”

Ms Withers concluded by stating, “Tony Abbott can show he is serious about good government by withdrawing his regressive higher education policy – this would be the consultative and collegial thing to do.”

The University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) is the recognised peak representative body for students of the University of Melbourne. UMSU provides representation, welfare, and campus activities for each of the University’s 40,000 students, and is committed to advocating for free, accessible and high-quality education.

Media contact: Rachel Withers 0409 442 023