Xenophon Team says no to funding cuts in Birmingham bill

The Nick Xenophon Team has signalled it will not support the government’s higher education package as it now stands. Speaking on the bill in the House of Representatives last night Rebekha Sharkie, NXT member for Mayo, said that the bill has some good measures but includes a big job-costing cut. In a strongly research speech she argued universities had taken big funding hits in recent years and warned performance-funding would create “hunger games” competition among universities.

While backing the demand driven system she spoke at length about graduate unemployment and called for a comprehensive state and federal review of post school education and training, including “to ensure young people successfully transition to sustainable employment.”

However, Ms Sharkie signalled while she thinks the $42 000 proposed HELP repayment starting figure is too high the NXT team is open to discussing a lower, but not specified, threshold for student loan repayments.

The legislation passed the House of Representatives at 7pm last night after the better part of two days of debate. The question now is how long will it be before the government decides it can risk the bill in the Senate, where Ms Sharkie’s three NXT colleagues can decide it’s fate. If at all.

Last night Education Minister Simon Birmingham said, “he would continue the constructive discussions he had underway with his Senate colleagues about the reforms.”