Seven Things the Government Could Cut Instead of Higher Education

Seven Things the Government Could Cut Instead of Higher Education

Under new budget cuts proposed by the government on Monday, university students will have to pay thousands of dollars more to crawl their way into the higher education system. For anyone whose mummy or daddy doesn’t own a beamer, it’s a bit of a worry. Compulsory repayment thresholds of student loans will also be lowered to $42,000 annual income from $55,000, which is more than mildly disconcerting for anyone who’s struggling to pay back their HECS debt.

Tuition fees for a Bachelor’s Degree already seem like a financial Mount Everest for most Australians who are keen to study. Australia has one of the lowest percentages of public investment in tertiary institutions in the western world, for fuck’s sake.

Basically, “Straya has a shit load of debt and this the government’s plan b to revive the soaring budget deficit. Conservatives will no doubt argue that these cuts are economically necessary. But here are some cuts that the government could be making instead, which might actually help people whilst reducing the budget deficit in the long term.

Fuck the Submarines

Of course the French company DCNS is beaming at the fact that the federal government will invest $50bn in 12 of their ‘sophisticated’ submarines, which Turnbull suggested was a “… critically important step in our security… and the prosperity that they (Australians) need.” This makes perfect sense, especially since submarines are unlikely to be a match for drone warfare and nuclear genocide. It is likely the technology will soon become obsolete and Malcolm Turnbull must be tripping.

Steer Clear of Adani and Invest in Renewables

Coal, coal, coal – the federal government never shuts up about it. The coalition is pushing to provide a $900m concessional loan to Adani for a railway line from the Carmichael mine. Environmental groups and a Greenpeace analyses state that the project does not meet two of the seven mandatory criteria for the loan, including the project being “of public benefit.” The mine will be linked to the Abbott Point coal terminal, raising concerns of coal-laden spills near the Great Barrier Reef, among other potential fuck ups.

American scientist Brian Shmidt told Q&A on Monday night that if climate change leads to a 4 or 6-degree increase, climate conditions will be created that are conducive to world war and widespread famine. 70% of voters believe the coalition is not doing enough on climate policy, while a clear majority also supports Labor’s 50% renewable energy policy by 2030.

Climate change is exacerbating coral bleaching which has wiped out a quarter of the Great Barrier Reef, a natural wonder of the world contributing $5.68bn to Australia’s economy and 69,000 jobs. It seems strange that investment in renewables is not taking precedent over cuts to education – doing so could see a plethora of new job creation and technological innovation in competitive global markets, in which Australia is currently lagging, while eliminating a dated industry of corrupt polluters.

Why not charge multinationals for the pollution they generate and give them incentives to change their practices, whilst decreasing the weight of their overflowing pockets? Especially since Nigeria is taxing oil and gas companies more than we do, I think we could step it up and save education.

Stop Torturing Refugees 

It has cost Australia’s taxpayers $9.6bn between 2013 and 2016 to deter refugees from entering the country – that’s approximately $1 million each year per detainee on Manus Island. It has been proven time and time again that, despite our xenophobic fears, refugees contribute and thrive in our society. Not only are they becoming our sporting heroes at the Olympic Games, they are also saving our lives in hospitals, leading the globe in technological innovation and becoming comical geniuses. Why the fuck aren’t we investing in their invitation and education?

Stop the Never-ending War on Drugs

According to Drug Law Reform Australia, the total cost of drug law enforcement is $1.1bn per year. Oh, and it doesn’t work – never has, never will. It doesn’t make sense that we are spending so much money fighting an unwinnable battle when we should really be following in Portugal’s example of drug decriminalisation. Today in Portugal, drug use has rapidly declined, substance abuse is killing very few citizens, HIV infection has reduced steadily, crime has dropped and addiction is at an all-time low.

If drug use can be treated as a medical issue through investment in counselling and drug treatment centres, rather than drug law enforcement and addict shaming, we could save countless lives.

Reduce Huge Tax Cuts for Big Businesses

The Turnbull government’s $24bn company tax cut seems excessive, to say the least, especially in the wake of penalising penniless students. Two-thirds of university students are already living below the poverty line and 10% of undergraduates admit they can’t afford to continue their studies as it is. Wouldn’t it be wise to invest in their continued education rather than making policies that will mostly benefit the rich?

98 per cent of small businesses are Australian owned, and because of Australia’s dividend imputation system, they are taxed at a personal rate. This means that the company tax cuts don’t apply to them. Yet 30% of large businesses have some component of foreign ownership, meaning they will benefit from the tax cut, seeing the money move offshore into their hands.

It is such a shame that Australia is run by some of the wealthiest players in the game. They will be the last ones to realise that trickle down economics doesn’t work. Cutting the tax rate to society’s top dogs doesn’t lead to job creation, wage growth, income growth or economic growth. It helps the rich stay rich, while pennies trickle down to the poor, only to strengthen the economic divide.

Legalise Gay Marriage

I cannot comprehend why this is taking so long or how America got this passed before us (Obama!), but doesn’t the government understand how much money we’ll spend on weddings? We’re likely to employ small towns for each ceremony.

Same-sex marriages would boost the economy by up to $500m per year with, and “the total economic benefit could be as much as $1 billion with small businesses and the service sector the winners.”

Since the vast majority of the Australian public support same-sex marriage and the LGBTQI community, it only seems logical to give the gays marriage and give society affordable education in return. Everyone wins!

Don’t Pander to Trump

We are intervening in Syria because America tells us to, but we have no fucking place there and it’s not our battle. We are receiving nuclear threats from North Korea because of our allegiance to the United States.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to have the United States as an ally, but it sucks that we continue backing a country that keeps creating enemies and making mistakes. Stepping back from America’s global tirade, whilst acknowledging our friendship through trade and geopolitical security, is better than spending billions on random offensives.

The United States has exorbitant university fees and greatly decreased social mobility, with 83% of citizens saying they can’t afford higher education. Meanwhile, children from the most affluent quarter of British families account for 55% of students at universities. Increasing fees for higher education means entries ride off the back of their own wealth, which is likely to exacerbate the economic divide in any given country.

If the budget deficit grows once again, which it probably will, another significant cut to the higher education sector might be looming over us like a brain-sucking poltergeist. Education is a fundamental human right; we should be gearing our policies towards free education for all, not making it an exclusive passage for the wealthy.

Cover via the ABC

In school, Zeke used to get by selling stolen porn magazines from the local newsagent. These days, he’s a writer – and gets paid far less than he did at age 14.