The Turnbull government has claimed that the recent budget focuses on “fairness and opportunity” but nothing could be further from the truth. The government plans to increase university fees by 7.5% which could add up to $3,600 to a four-year course.
While asking students to pay more, they have enshrined a plan to lower corporate tax rates even further in the coming years. Far from being fair, this budget is an attack on students and young people.
In addition to a swathe of cuts in recent years, a further $2.8 billion is set to be cut from higher education funding. These cuts will no doubt result in even bigger class sizes, less staff, and fewer courses on offer. Students will be expected to pay more for less.
The government also plans to lower the income threshold for student loan repayments from $56,000 to $42,000. This measure will actually apply to all people with current student loans.
Far from providing any real ‘opportunities’ these measures will only further burden young people who are already struggling with housing stress, low paid and casual jobs as well as diminishing welfare payments.
The government claims they need to make these changes to ensure student loans are more sustainable. But this debt that has been created is totally unnecessary.
Higher education should be fully funded by the government. This could be easily paid for if major companies were taxed at a higher rate. It has been reported that hundreds of big companies actually pay no tax at all!
Unfortunately, both the major parties have supported higher education cuts and raising student debt, so hoping for a change of government is not enough. Instead we need a militant campaign of strikes and rallies. Only mass action will force the government to drop these proposals.
The National Union of Students (NUS) and the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) should call a 24-hour nationwide strike of both staff and students as a first step. Through a campaign of mass action and non-compliance, students and staff have the potential to stop the government implementing its measures.
While fighting this latest round of attacks we should link our struggle to the need to build a different type of society – a society where free, quality education is a basic right and employment is guaranteed. As long as capitalism remains, there will always be pressure to turn education into a commodity.
The Socialist Party demands:
• Free, quality education for all from childcare to university
• Write off all student debt and boost funding to public education by closing tax loopholes and raising corporate taxation
• Income support for students that covers the real cost of living, and public investment in affordable student housing
• For a fighting student movement that links up with other social movements to build an alternative to the politics of the major parties
• For a socialist society that puts people before profit!
If you agree, contact the Socialist Party – text ‘Join SP’ to 0432 447 036.
Text of a Socialist Party leaflet being distributed at student protests this week.