Independent Senator for Tasmania Jacqui Lambie has called on Education Minister Christopher Pyne to guarantee that his motives for reintroducing Higher Education legislation - isn’t to allow Liberal Party donors and Companies in Australia’s private training industry (for the first time in Australia’s history) access to the Billions of Taxpayer dollars tied to the delivery of Higher Education qualifications.
“Late June, I received an email from Robert Griew, a former associate secretary in Minister Christopher Pyne’s federal department of Education and Training. Mr Griew now works as a lobbyist for the Nous Group and asked for a meeting “to discuss higher education.
(It’s only recently, due to some great work by the Guardian’s journalist Daniel Hurst, that I learnt Mr Pyne authorized a payment of $150K for a contract of 3 weeks to the Nous Group and Mr Griew for their crossbench lobbying efforts.)
As I read Mr Griew’s email – like the majority of Australians I asked myself:
Why won’t the federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne take “No” for an answer... surely the Senate twice rejecting his legislation sent a clear message?
And why is Mr Pyne so desperate to force these surprise, harmful changes on our Higher Education system - which will first time in Australia’s history allow:
- Student fees and debt to sky-rocket by so much, and
- Companies in Australia’s private training industry access to the Billions of Taxpayer dollars tied to the delivery of Higher Education qualifications?
Most are aware of the concerns around student debt, fees and $100K degrees.
(To understand why they are justified, you only have to look at America’s presidential debates - and the big social problems their politicians are now struggling to solve which were caused by out-of-control uni-student debt.)
But most will not know that respected Higher Education providers like University of Tasmania (UTAS) under the Liberal’s proposed changes - will be forced to unfairly compete against private training companies which don’t have the same requirements to invest in research and give back socially to our communities.
If alarm bells have not rung for you by now, have a look at what has happened to a privatized TAFE and Vocational Education and Training scheme in a number of Australian states.
There are many examples of private Group Colleges who have allegedly taken advantage of the VET FEE-HELP student training loan scheme and have been more concerned with protecting profits, rather than protecting academic standards and student’s welfare.
Parliamentary Library research I commissioned (see attached 2) states that:
“Group Colleges Australia donated $16 000 to the Liberal Party in the lead up to the May 2014 budget - $19 000 in total .
Group Colleges stands to benefit from the Abbott government's proposed higher education changes that would publicly fund private higher education companies.”
Perhaps that’s why Education Minister Pyne won’t take “No” from the crossbenchers - and why he’s prepared to try and get away with wasting $150,000 in Taxpayers’ funds on lobbyists?
Is Mr Pyne and fellow Liberals scared that the electoral donations will stop from the private training industry - if the Government stop their efforts to introduce legislation that the Parliamentary Library clearly says, “Group Colleges stands to benefit from”? said Senator Lambie.