Friday, 12 June 2020
Statements by Members
I am still at a loss as to why the government are refusing to support universities in this time of crisis. They seem to take it as a point of ideological pride that they've left them out in the cold. We've had government backbenchers suggest that really it is universities' own fault that part of what makes them financially successful is international students—nothing to do, of course, with the way the government has funded and regulated the sector! And they seem to suggest that the people who work at universities are not worthy of support. But these are real people with families, financial commitments, mortgages, fees and expenses they need to pay. They're academics, tutors, administration staff and the staff of the small businesses in the area who rely on the trade from the university. And many of them live in my electorate, where La Trobe University is struggling, without support, through this crisis. They've been forced to ask staff for expressions of interest for voluntary redundancies and preretirement contract programs. It didn't have to be this way. Access to the JobKeeper scheme would have provided them with $50 million to mitigate the impact of the crisis. But this government deliberately moved the goalposts to cut them out of the scheme. And they think no-one is noticing. Well, they are. I've had hundreds of people jump online to sign my petition to save jobs at La Trobe. It's time for the government to step up to support La Trobe and support higher education.