NTEU backs Greens in federal election

The National Tertiary Education Union will stump up $1 million to back the Greens in the next election. By Antonia Maiolo
The union supporting university staff and academics will put up $1 million of its members’ money to back the Australian Green in the upcoming election.
The National Tertiary Education Union said although it doesn’t want to see the Labor government voted out, recent cuts to the sector by the ALP along with the Coalition’s tough stance towards tertiary education, has compelled the union “to defend higher education”.  
The union voted to spend $1 million on an election campaign in support of maintaining the Green’s balance of power in the Senate.
Jeannie Rea, NTEU president, said higher education will “feel the brunt of Tony Abbott’s axe” if the Liberals win control of the Senate.
“It’s really important to look at how we can prevent the Coalition having control of both houses,” Rea said.
“We don’t want to see the Labor government voted out and a Coalition government voted in, but the ALP needs to hear loud and clear that the $4 billion cuts to higher education since 2011 are dumb.”
According to the union it will not be making any donations to the Greens or any individual candidate but instead plans to support “selected” lower house candidates who commit to the union’s election priorities – a reversal of the $2.3 billion cuts, a 10 per cent increase in funding per student, no further cuts plus no undermining of trade unions.
It looks like Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt could fit the bill. Bandt recently led a motion to rescind the cuts which House of Representative MPs ultimately failed to back.
Only five MPs voted in support of Bandt’s motion to restore funding to higher education.
Matt McGowan, assistant national secretary of the NTEU, said that the vote confirmed the correctness of the NTEU’s decision to spend up to $1 million on its own election campaign in support of maintaining the Green’s balance of power in the Senate.
“It’s clear that higher education is no longer a priority for the ALP. Only the Greens and a handful of individual MPs seem to be prepared to throw their weight behind higher education in the coming election,” McGowan said.
Adam has welcomed the support of the NTEU, “I strongly welcome the support of the NTEU for my campaign in Melbourne and the Greens’ campaign to retain balance of power in the Senate. This decision reflects the level of community concern about Labor’s uni cuts.”
“The NTEU’s support will have a decisive impact on the election, particularly in Melbourne where concern about Labor’s $2.3 billion cut to university funding and student support is so strong,” Bandt said.
Meanwhile Universities Australia (UA) kicked off its own regional campaign in retaliation to the federal cuts.
The sector’s peak body, just a day prior to the NTEU’s campaign launch, unleashed its $5 million advertising blitz 80 regional areas.
UA’s Smartest Investment campaign – calling for the government to provide funding to universities – has been running nationally on TV, radio, print and online since the end of February.
UA chief executive Belinda Robinson said regional areas have been chosen because of their local university presence.
“The local ad blitz reflects the fact that universities are vital to every facet of the Australian economy, whether in the cities, the suburbs or rural and regional towns,” Robinson said.
She said in the regions alone universities employ over 10,000 Australians educate over 100,000 students and contribute around $2 billion a year to local economies.
“Our universities also closely collaborate with local business and industry, helping diversify and transform local communities and keeping them competitive.”
Robinson said that funding cuts to universities and students “hurts economies locally” as well as the country’s global competitiveness.
She said UA will continue to oppose the cuts up until the time that they are cemented in law.
“We owe nothing less to the overwhelming number of Australians who are concerned about the impact of these cuts on Australia’s future.”

Please login to view content or register for a 4 week FREE Trial.

Membership Login