26 March 2015
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, has condemned the Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, for continuing to hold Tasmania and its university to ransom over his higher education reforms.
Mr Wilkie pressed Mr Pyne in Question Time today to commit to $400m in funding to allow the University of Tasmania’s planned restructure.
“So will you now act in the public interest and commit to that funding, or do you intend to promise it closer to the next election in a cynical move to try and save the three Tasmanian Liberal amigos?,’’ Mr Wilkie asked Mr Pyne.
In answer, Mr Pyne failed to commit to the funding and continued to link the funding to the passage of reforms.
Mr Wilkie said Mr Pyne was effectively holding Tasmania and the University of Tasmania to ransom.
“Universities existed before Mr Pyne’s reform proposal and must exist afterwards, regardless of the reform’s success or failure,’’ Mr Wilkie said.
“Hence Mr Pyne really should stop linking to the reforms the critical $400m restructure funding for the University of Tasmania.
“The fact is the University of Tasmania needs to restructure no matter what happens with the Government’s reforms. Otherwise it will continue to struggle to maintain the Launceston and Burnie campuses. Without broad restructuring, the University will be unable to realise its full potential as a social and economic powerhouse, particularly in disadvantaged areas and for disadvantaged students.”