Pyne revives deregulation on Dawkins' back
Education Minister Christopher Pyne has signalled that he may negotiate with the Opposition on uni fee deregulation, and claims to have the backing of the man behind HECS.
Mr Pyne will write to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to set up talks as the Government tries once again to let universities set their own fees.
“I'm going to write to Bill Shorten this afternoon offering to sit down with him to negotiate a way of Labor being part of this national conversation, because the Government believes that the higher education reforms are vital,” Pyne said.
The Education Minister has been buoyed by comments from former Labor education minister John Dawkins, a central figure in the formation of the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) program in the late 1980s.
Mr Dawkins recently told reporters that the notion of university fee deregulation would be a “small and unremarkable change”.
But he would not go so far as to support for the Government's higher education proposals more broadly.
“I think the Government hasn't thought clearly enough about how to do it,” he said.
“It's trying to introduce fee deregulation at the same time as it's cutting billions of dollars out of the taxpayer funding of universities.
“In the process [the Government] may destroy a much admired university financing system, admired around the world.”
Mr Pyne has managed to see Mr Dawkins’ appraisal as a “significant development” that “marginalises the Labor leadership”.
Also among the new views this week is that of Melbourne University's Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis, which is laid out in an article he wrote for The Conversation.
Opposition education spokesperson Kim Carr will not budge.
“This is a plan the Government has no mandate for, it will lead to massive gouging of students, it will see $100,000 degrees, massive debts. It's bad for students and bad for the economy,” he said.
On a related note, the Motoring Enthusiasts Party Senator Ricky Muir said the Prime Minister's office had been in touch with him, and he was willing to talk about deregulation.
He has not gone as far as supporting the changes yet, while several of his fellow senators remain dead against it.