The Greens say that party polling demonstrates the highest-ever support for free university and TAFE.
Greens National education spokesperson Mehreen Faruqi says the survey shows 59 per cent of Australians think university and TAFE should be free and fully funded by the Government and 68 per cent think student debts are “currently too high.”
The survey follows weeks of coverage of increasing graduate debt, due to HELP loans being indexed to the inflation-increasing consumer price index. As of June 1 the indexation rate is 7.1 per cent,
The Lonergan Research poll also found that 72 per cent of those surveyed oppose student debt rising with inflation and 69 per cent of Gen Zers “are much more likely to vote for a candidate with strong policies on tackling student debt,” than baby boomers (38 per cent).
Senator Faruqi campaigns consistently on the cost of study, including a recent bill to freeze indexation of study debt and lift the repayment threshold. A Senate committee rejected the bill, (“uncosted financial implications”) following government submissions weasling away from the issue, by suggesting the O’Kane Accord address the issue.
“The verdict on student debt indexation is in and it’s damning. The Government should be wiping all student debt but at the very least, it should get its head out of the sand and abolish indexation now,” Senator Faruqi said Friday.
She is on winner with this, what with it playing to the Greens base.
So is the government, presenting as responsibly reforming. Last month Education Minister Jason Clare responded to demands to reduce indexation for study debt by pointing to the cost, which would be borne by all taxpayers, adding that his priority is expanding access to HE.
And on Friday Skills Minister Brendan O’Connor said the government’s, “focus has been to remove cost barriers in areas of shortage … many people, would not enrol in these courses, because they cannot afford the fees.”
“In the end, we will make sure that we’re being fiscally responsible,” he said.
Total study debt to the Commonwealth is $74bn.