The higher education cashaway continues with infrastructure and student support announcements
Tanya Plibersek would now need to be in two places at once to announce all the Labor HE infrastructure funding. On Wednesday Labor’s deputy leader and education portfolio shadow was in Darwin, announcing money. She left commitments for Australia Catholic U , Western Sydney U and UNSW in Sydney to her higher education junior spokesperson, Louise Pratt.
Ms Plibersek announced $14m for a teacher education facility, to be used by CDU and Batcheler Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education.
Back in Sydney, Senator Pratt was promising $7m in government for a campus partnership between Blacktown council and Australian Catholic University. Before that she had been at UNSW announcing $2m for a university partnership with nearby Matraville Sports High. Senator Pratt’s big day also included a visit to Western Sydney U, where she committed $3m for equity programmes i nncatchment schools.
If, as seems likely the ACU and Northern Territory money would come from the proposed $300m University Future Fund, it is now over half-allocated.
In contrast, when Education Minister Dan Tehan stuck his head up Wednesday it was to point out that out-of-pocket child care costs are down by 8.9 per cent since the government announced a subsidy in October.
That Mr Tehan has stayed largely silent on higher education during the campaign is probably because he has nothing to announce. The government appears to rightly recognise even if there had been much coalition support on campus it ended when demand driven funding of undergraduate places was abolished in 2018.
So why is Labor making more announcements than it need? One answer is because it recognises the importance of more higher education infrastructure and equity in access. Another is it is building a bank of goodwill it will draw down when it reduces funding per commonwealth supported place in the 2020 budget.