06 September 2017



SENATOR MALARNDIRRRI MCCARTHY, SENATOR FOR THE NORTHERN TERRITORY: Good Morning Katie and good morning to all your listeners.

WOLF: We do know the Federal Labor opposition is saying that the Government is pushing ahead in Federal Parliament with their legislation to jack up students fees and cut university funding by $3.8 billion. Senator, can you tell me what the Government is proposing?

SENATOR MCCARTHY: These cuts are really significant Katie, in particular for the Northern Territory. We have got very serious concerns for universities across the country, but in the Northern Territory Charles Darwin University, there are estimates of cuts of up to 40 million or perhaps more.

WOLF: So it would have a massive impact on Charles Darwin University?

SENATOR MCCARTHY: Oh absolutely. Charles Darwin Uni is unique. Most of the students that go there, and previous students would know there is no other single Australian uni that serves such a large area of the continent and in such a remote location.

WOLF: What would the changes mean for specifically for students?

SENATOR MCCARTHY: Higher ed. packages that include a fee to apply to do courses, such as bridging courses, so if youre an adult a mature age student that wants to go back to uni and it will take you time to qualify for degrees there are bridging courses. Now those bridging courses are going to be impacted. Theyre certainly relied upon by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Just as importantly by women, a lot by women, mature age women take up these courses, the bridging courses.

WOLF: What is the Governments reasoning for these changes?

SENATOR MCCARTHY: Simply, the budget bottom line Katie. Thats really the focus for this budget. And also providing cuts to areas we believe are not needed. We definitely need a good education system in the country; we certainly need to provide it for all Australians.

WOLF: Senator how likely is it that these changes are going to come into play?

SENATOR MCCARTHY: The Government has flagged these cuts since the budget, so clearly they are making very serious steps towards the cuts they need to make, and they are ramping it up. Were concerned in terms of education. I am concerned, so is Luke Gosling the Member for Solomon and Warren Snowdon about Charles Darwin University; it has a total number of students, just in the last year over 22,000 students Katie. Weve a significant proportion of our Territorians of interstate people that come there.

WOLF: You have met with Charles Darwin University I am assuming, what have they said to you?

SENATOR MCCARTHY: I certainly met with Charles Darwin Uni and the Vice Chancellor, when I first came in as Senator. There were issues then that this was a possibility, clearly, I will be making another phone call and an opportunity to touch base with Charles Darwin University as soon as I can in this coming week, or hopefully next week. They are very concerned. These are big dollars we are talking about. Its going to have significant cuts not only for students but potentially faculties closing and teaching and administration, support jobs possibly lost. This is very serious business that we are talking about here.

WOLF: Senator, what is the process this week? What will the Government have to do to make these changes come in to play and what is the process this week?

SENATOR MCCARTHY: Clearly its going to be debated here in the Parliament. These are discussions that are going on and from Labors perspective our shadow education minister Tanya Plibersek is doing all she can, and we are certainly taking guidance from her on that. But these are important discussions and debates that we are having in the Parliament this week.

WOLF: What is the main message from the Labor Opposition on this situation?

SENATOR MCCARTHY: Education matters to all Australians, and all Australians should have the opportunity to go to university without ridiculous fees and go to university knowing that they can complete their courses without having it cut, or the lecturers in those courses cut, this is an Australia that we pride ourselves on, where opportunities are available for all people.

WOLF: An education is such an important thing, especially that higher education. I know that being able to pay those fees back and then not being a massive, so that you arent paying them back for the next 20 years as well certainly makes a difference in making the decision in whether you go to university or not.

SENATOR MCCARTHY: Absolutely Katie, really we know that from primary school through to secondary school and onto tertiary education the more opportunity that you have to learn the better access to job opportunities that you have in life and expanding your own personal horizon, and we should be proud of that as Australians, and not cut off people and giving them unfair access in the education space. That is just not right.

WOLF: Senator Malarndirri McCarthy we will have to leave it there.

SENATOR MCCARTHY: Thanks very much.