Mr Wilson (1:30pm) — Yesterday, the government moved forward with its ridiculous plan to make life harder for prospective university students and graduates. At a time when our economic future depends on a smarter, better trained workforce, at a time when we should be working to reduce inequality and to improve access to education, this government has decided to whack low-income Australians.
While it remains committed to giving away $17 billion to profitable banks and multinationals, it’s put the squeeze on younger Australians and people who are seeking to retrain in the face of a changing jobs environment.
When HECS was introduced in 1990, the repayment threshold was $22,000. That was 73 per cent of average male earnings at the time. Now this Turnbull government has decided to drop the current threshold from $55,000 to $45,000, which is less than 60 per cent of average earnings. This change will likely have a particular effect, a particular impact, on women, who are already disadvantaged by the gender pay gap and who, in the case of single mums, will be dealing with a combined sharp impact of marginal tax rates and reduction in family support. That means that some women will know that, if they earn one dollar more than $45,000, they will instantly be worse off.
This punishment of graduates in my electorate and across Western Australia is in addition to the government’s general hit on universities: cuts of $86 million to Curtin University, $49 million to Edith Cowan, $35 million to Murdoch, $38 million to the University of Western Australia, and at least $19 million to Notre Dame.