Government senators are defying Education Minister Simon Birmingham by calling for amendment to the government’s study debt bill, which includes a lifetime university loan limit.
Liberals Lucy Gichuhi, Jim Molan and James Paterson say there should be a cap on outstanding HELP debts rather than a lifetime limit.
Committee chair Senator Gichuhi (Lib-SA) reports that:
“it may be appropriate to adopt the recommendation put forth by many submitters that loan limits should be capped such that students who have reached the cap but begin to repay their debt may again access Commonwealth assistance to the cap amount. The committee considers that this would enable the government to recover debt as HELP loans are repaid, but will not impede on the ability of students to pursue life-long learning.”
The government senators support all other aspects of the bill.
But the Opposition doesn’t. Senators Gavin Marshall (Lab-Vic), Deborah O’Neill (Lab-NSW) and Jacinta Collins (Lab-Vic) say a “flexible borrowing limit,” “would do nothing to discourage very high fee setting.” And Green senator Sara Hanson Young rejects a “life-time” limit “outright.”
The committee’s findings were announced late Friday, as Senator Birmingham geared up to support his state colleagues in Saturday’s SA election.