Politics

Jacqui Lambie Has Absolutely Ripped Into The Government Over University Changes

"I can't support a bill that reserves its harshest hits for our poorest kids."

jacqui lambie university

Senator Jacqui Lambie has come out swinging against changes to university funding, saying the government’s proposed bill will only help “bake in disadvantage” for poorer students.

The government rewarding people for being rich while making life harder for vulnerable people? Imagine!

The bill in question would make some courses way more expensive — humanities, for example would face a 113 percent increase — so that they can justify making courses in more “employable” fields cheaper. That includes courses like nursing, psychology and science (which almost seems irrelevent considering the government doesn’t like listening to scientists).

The bill would also take away HECs-HELP access from students who fail multiple classes in their first year.

Last night Lambie released a statement to say she would not support the bill, which means it will be defeated unless the government can convince Centre Alliance senator Stirling Griff to support them.

Lambie said she would not support a bill “that tells the country that poor people don’t get dream jobs”.

“If money is no object, it doesn’t matter what the price tag is. You’ll study whatever you want to study, even if the ticket price is doubled,” she said.

“The ones who get pushed out of their preferred courses based on price are the ones who are watching every dollar, knowing they might need that money down the track. They’re the ones we should be looking out for.

“Instead, we’re telling them, no matter how talented, no matter how determined, to dream a little cheaper.”

She also lashed out at One Nation, who negotiated a ten percent discount for students who pay upfront — as if that’s something that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are in a position to do.

“This bill makes university life harder for poor kids and poor parents. And not only does it not have the same impact on wealthy families, it even gives them sweetheart little discounts,” she said.

“It just means that the wealthier you are, the cheaper university becomes. It’s just a good break for those who’ve enjoyed more than a few good breaks. Meanwhile, poor kids get a raw deal from this bill.”

Lambie also pointed out that targeting kids who fail in their first year also entrenches inequality, since it’s students from rich backgrounds (who don’t need to worry about supporting themselves while studying) are least likely to fail a subject.

The government has promised the changes would lead to tens of thousands of extra university places (something higher education experts have called bullshit on).

Lambie said she would be open to working with the government about some kind of reform, if they’d be honest about what they’re trying to do. “I think we can save the taxpayer some money and still make university accessible and affordable,” she said.

“But we’re not going to get to that point if every step along the way we’re just indulging these weird and obscure culture wars where universities are the enemy and the working class are collateral damage.

“(The government)  might be happy to kick the ladder out from students who are trying to land their dream job, but I’m not prepared to do it. I can’t support a bill that reserves its harshest hits for our poorest kids.”