TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
UNIVERSITY SUPPORT WELCOME, BUT NOT ENOUGH TO SAVE JOBS AND RESEARCH
Extra support for universities is always welcome, but the Government’s announcement yesterday will sadly not do enough to save jobs and protect critical research during the COVID-19 crisis.
University education is one of Australia’s biggest industries, and one of the biggest employers too. Universities support around 260,000 jobs, including over 14,000 jobs in regional areas.
Universities have been hit hard by COVID-19.
If the Federal Government fails to deliver more help now, universities have said 21,000 jobs will be lost in the next six months alone. That’s tens of thousands of livelihoods gone – a catastrophe. We’re talking about academics, tutors, admin staff, library staff, catering staff, grounds staff, cleaners, and many others – all with families, trying to make ends meet.
It is disappointing that the Government has refused to make universities eligible for JobKeeper payments on the same basis as other not-for-profit organisations. The Treasurer could fix this with the stroke of a pen.
The Government is also denying universities access to low or no interest loans.
Labor thinks it’s a big mistake for the Prime Minister to abandon universities during this crisis.
We don’t want look back, after thousands of jobs losses, including in regional Australia, and know we could have done more.
For some time, Labor has been calling on the Government to help universities cope through this difficult time.
Not only do hundreds of thousands of Australians rely on universities for their jobs, universities are home to the brilliant researchers we’re depending on to develop new treatments, cures, and equipment to combat COVID-19.
MONDAY, 13 APRIL 2020