By his own admission, Tony Abbott‘s Government has had a “ragged week.” The media backlash continues over his handling of the announced funding cuts to both the ABC and SBS, the Victorian arm of the Liberal Party was spectacularly dumped from power after only one term following Saturday’s state election, and the budget issues compounded with the anticipated scrapping of the $7 GP Co-Payment, amid tightening economic screws ahead of the looming Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook report.
Now it’s looking increasingly likely that even more troublesome aspects of the much maligned Federal Budget are about to hit the cutting room floor, with Prime Minister Abbott today hinting that elements of the highly controversial Higher Education reforms will be the next to go.
The Government has conceded that it has now yielded to senate crossbench pressure and shelved the proposed re-alignment of student debt rates. Under the proposal, student’s HECS and HELP debts would have been shifted to align with the Government Bond rate, meaning they would accrue interest at a much higher and faster rate than what they do now. Instead, the rate of interest will remain as it stands – aligned to the consumer price index.
Additionally, a proposal from Victorian senator John Madigan has been accepted by the Government, which will give students who are new parents a five-year pause on interest rates.
And it’s looking increasingly likely that the back-peddling won’t stop there.
“I don’t presume to know what the final outcome will be but we are determined to deal with this matter one way or another in this final sitting week of the year.“
The centrepiece of the proposed Higher Education reforms was University Fee Deregulation, which would lift the cap on what Universities can charge for their courses, creating an open market system for tertiary institutions. Whether altering that becomes part of the compromised proposals remains to be seen.
This move comes in the wake of a torrid time for the Government’s economic policies, with all projections pointing towards the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook report to paint an extremely bleak picture of the Government’s handling of the economy. The report, due to be delivered within the next two weeks, is tipped to show a budget deficit far greater than Treasurer Joe Hockey had forecast back in May, largely due to the inability to cope with a falling iron price.
This, hot on the heels of the OECD‘s warning to Hockey that Australia’s economy might not be able to withstand any further big budget cuts, with the International economic watchdog advising the Treasurer not to cut too much too soon.
The MYEFO report is expected to reveal a budget deficit of $34.7billion at the absolute minimum – $4.7billion worse than first predicted.
Photo: Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images.
via ABC News.