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Issue #1784      July 5, 2017

Exploitation Updates

On July 1, the same day as 700,000 low paid workers had their penalty rates cut, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull oversaw pay rises for politicians of up to $17,000.

At the same time, public sector workers have been fighting for a pay rise from this government for more than three and half years.

Since 2012, federal politicians have enjoyed an average yearly pay increase of 6.8 per cent, dwarfing the national average of 2.6 per cent over the same period.

On July 1 this year, they got a two per cent wage rise and a two per cent tax cut, giving them wage rises ranging from $4,000 to almost $20,000.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s pay increase this year is $16,788, equivalent to almost half the annual income of a worker on the minimum wage, taking his salary to $533,738.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash will bask in a $9,821 raise, taking her annual salary to $352, 821.

And Treasurer Scott Morrison will luxuriate in a $12,409 wage rise, which brings his salary to $420,409

The government’s proposed higher education funding cuts were introduced as the Higher Education Support Legislation Amendment (A More Sustainable, Responsive and Transparent Higher Education System) Bill 2017 on 11 May 2017. Amidst its legislative agenda, the Bill imposes massive funding cuts to higher education, increases the maximum student contribution by 1.8 per cent for four years from 2018, and applies an efficiency dividend of 2.5 per cent per annum to grants under the Commonwealth Grant Scheme (CGS) in 2018 and 2019.

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) submission pointed out the impact of this legislation upon the higher education sector and opposed the proposed funding cuts on the basis that:

  • Australia already has one of the lowest levels of public investment in tertiary education in the world, and any additional cuts would put Australian universities, students and graduates at a competitive disadvantage globally;
  • Australian higher education students currently pay amongst the highest fees in the world to attend a public university, and any increase is an unreasonable imposition;
  • Australian students and universities have already contributed close to $4 billion in budget repair since the election of the Coalition government in 2013;
  • As public institutions, Australian universities are required to operate within budget. Ongoing operating surpluses are necessary to fund capital and other works. This has been reached through measures, including increased reliance on insecure employment, which the NTEU considers to be detrimental to the capacity and reputation of Australia to sustain a world-class university system.

Next article – Culture & Life – Mucking about in the (coal) dust

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