Greens Senator to Visit Newcastle Thursday 11/4 to Launch Fee Free Uni and TAFE Initiative for the Hunter

Australian Greens Senator for NSW and Spokesperson for Education, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, will join Greens Councillor and Candidate for Newcastle at the upcoming Federal election, Dr John Mackenzie, outside Newcastle University this Thursday to launch the Greens Fee Free Uni and TAFE Initiative for the Hunter,

When: Thursday 11 April, 10:45am

Where: NeW Space Campus Courtyard off Hunter St, cnr Hunter & Auckland St, Newcastle

The Greens plan for free higher education, including university and TAFE, will revolutionise education for everyone, but especially communities that are currently reliant on coal mining, allowing them to retrain and reskill without incurring crushing debts. The plan would also boost university funding by 10% per student, link additional funding for universities with an increase in security of work for university staff, tie the HELP repayment threshold to the median wage and raise student support payments like Youth Allowance, Austudy and Abstudy by $75 a week.

The Greens have also released their ‘Renew Australia’ plan to transition to 100% renewable energy, build a clean energy economy and provide a just transition for workers. A $1 billion Clean Energy Transition Fund will work to reskill, relocate or transition to retirement, depending on their personal circumstances. The fund will also target support to the local communities affected by the transition, prioritising infrastructure investment in those areas and offering economic incentives for investment throughout the local economy.

Senator Faruqi said:

“Burning coal is the world’s biggest cause of climate change and Australia is the world’s biggest exporter of coal. No matter what the Liberal and Labor parties say, the world is transitioning away from coal and the Greens will not stand by and leave coal mining communities high and dry with no plan for their future. Fee free university and TAFE is an essential part of our plan to assist communities and workers transition away from coal.

“We have universal primary and secondary education. Free public higher education is the missing piece of the puzzle. No one should graduate with a decade of debt ahead of them. Australians have seen the benefits of free education, and we can have them again.

“Removing TAFE fees is a crucial part of this plan. TAFE is being decimated by state and federal governments. Fee free TAFE and the removal of the Gillard-era contestable funding requirements will rebuild TAFE as the public vocational training provider of choice for students.

“The Greens Plan to make universities and TAFE fee free, increase funding to universities & TAFES and expand income support payments for students is transformational. It will change forever how we think about education. Whether you are starting out, have student debt already or are thinking of going back to study, the Greens plan will help you.

“For too long universities have been asked to do more with less. It’s been decades since the last real increase in funding to universities. Our plan delivers an extra sixteen billion over the next decade for universities to improve learning and teaching conditions, reduce class sizes and and give researchers the resources they need. Importantly, we will work with universities to reduce casualisation in the sector to reduce job insecurity and improve staff working conditions” she concluded.

John Mackenzie, Greens Councillor and Greens Candidate for Newcastle said:

“This Plan will provide free retraining and reskilling for all of Newcastle and the Hunter’s 13,000 coal workers. By providing free access to the full range of university and TAFE courses, we will ensure that they are given a new lease on life, supported to retrain and study for jobs after coal, without being saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Coal workers and their families shouldn’t be crippled with debt for changing careers as we all adapt to changes in the economy”.

“Because the bulk of the retraining will be delivered locally in Newcastle and the Hunter, it will mean more funding for the University of Newcastle and for Hunter TAFE, and a shot in the arm for our regional economy. This is vital and timely funding that will support the University of Newcastle as it continues to expand with development of the Honeysuckle City Campus. Investing in the University’s growth, including the Innovation Hub, will cement its role as a leading educational facility nationally and a key driver of an investment and diversification for life after coal.”

“It’s no secret that our Hunter TAFE campuses have been struggling due to underinvestment and cost-cutting. Our plan will fix this by substantially increasing the Commonwealth contribution to TAFE, re-investing in the TAFE teaching workforce and in the delivery of training that prepares our workforce for the jobs of the future.”

Media Contact: Matt Hilton

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