Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Pyne sqirming

From today's ABC News online

The Federal Government has indicated it is willing to compromise further to get its planned changes to the higher education sector through the Senate.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne has declared he will "do whatever needs to be done" to make sure Australia's universities are the best they can be.

The Government's original package was rejected by the Senate in December, but Mr Pyne immediately introduced a revised plan to the Lower House.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said higher education would be the centrepiece of the Government's legislative agenda when parliament resumes in a little over a fortnight.

"Obviously we are very committed to these reforms," Mr Pyne told ABC Radio 891 in Adelaide.

Federal Opposition frontbencher Mark Butler said even if the funding cut was reduced, Labor would still oppose the intent of the plan.

"That still leaves the deregulation of university fees, which is polite language for fee hikes for university students," Mr Butler told ABC Radio.

"Christopher might have got rid of the bond rate as the indexation rate for university fees in December, and that was a very big problem in the package, he might even be toying with the idea of getting rid of the 20 per cent funding cut, but he still has a fundamental problem with the fee hikes, the deregulation, and the most important problem is he can't get it through the Senate."All the key cross benchers in the Senate have come out this week and said they won't pass Pyne's legislation.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said a review could be worthwhile.

"We're certainly open to working through an independent process to look at the future of higher education; Labor did that when they were last in power," Mr Shorten said.

But he has derided speculation the Government may scale back the proposed 20 per cent cut to course funding as simply "kite flying".

"This nation does not have time for the extreme ideological games of the Abbott Government," he said.

"We do not want, under any circumstances, $100,000 degrees."

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