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Crikey Says

May 23, 2014

Crikey says: Hockey is dead right on uni fees

Plenty of Liberal MPs got a free ride at uni (Joe Hockey even opposed fees once). Bernard Keane on a bungled budget process. Lessons from the Germans on GP co-payments. Under attack from an army of disabled? Not quite. Chris Kenny wants $90,000-plus from the ABC. Thailand's poor lose their voice. And Guy Rundle on True Detectives and a crumbling America.

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“There is no question in my mind that students will never accept fees. I totally oppose any compromise the government may offer.”

Who said that? Why, it was Joe Hockey, when he was campaigning to be president of the Sydney University Students’ Representative Council in 1986. He won and this is what he did as president in 1987, according to uni magazine Honi soit:

“[Hockey’s] year as SRC President was chiefly spent fighting Labor’s re-introduction of university fees, which had been abolished under Gough Whitlam.”

Hockey’s campaign was unsuccessful and HECS fees were introduced — but fortunately for him, he still got most of his Arts/Law degree for free.

This is, of course, the same Joe Hockey who now wants to allow universities to charge unlimited fees, significantly reduce government funding per student, make students pay back HECS when they are on lower incomes, and charge a higher rate of interest on HECS debt.

The hypocrisy is staggering. The News Corp tabloids may be vilifying students who are protesting against the cuts, but we reckon they have a point. We also suggest Hockey pay the $37,265 in fees his degree would cost him if he did it now. Of course, if his budget changes go through, that bill would rise.

So ditto, young Joe: students should not accept higher fees from the government, and such moves should be fought against and rejected without compromise.

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