Pyne's Blackmail Will Jeopardise Local Research

Stephen Jones and Sharon Bird today called on Education Minister Christopher Pyne to reverse his childish decision to hold research funding hostage to his plan for $100,000 degrees, and guarantee the funding future of the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).

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The Government has effectively held a gun to the head of cross-bench Senators by tying NCRIS funding to the passage of the devastating Higher Education and Research Reform Bill. They have done so even though there is no link between the funding of NCRIS research infrastructure and the flawed universities legislation.

This means that 1,700 jobs and the future of scientific innovation in Australia are in danger. The move comes on top of Tony Abbott’s savage cuts to the CSIRO, which has shed 1300 jobs.

Sharon Bird said that Mr Pyne’s juvenile tactics were imperilling research vital to the region.

“NCRIS funded projects have delivered tremendous results that we should be proud of.

“For example, it was an NCRIS “Super Science Initiative” injection of $215,000 that enabled innovators at the SMART Infrastructure Facility at the University of Wollongong to create a new online monitoring system that can report on everything from electricity consumption to water usage.

“This groundbreaking “SMART Infrastructure Dashboard” will assist cities and regions with strategically planned infrastructure.

“Senator Xenophon was exactly right when he reminded Mr Pyne that he is not in university politics anymore and that he is jeopardising local jobs and innovative research. It is time for Mr Pyne to grow up and leave NCRIS funding alone.”

Stephen Jones said that Labor would not back down because the future of Australia’s higher education system was at stake.

“The Government is trying to intimidate the Senate but we will hold firm. Because of Labor, there are 190,000 more students at university today, including 36,000 from low-income families.

“We believe that talent, hard work and ambition should determine who gets into university, not the size of one’s bank balance.

“It is vital that higher education in Australia remains accessible to all. Labor will never walk away from our commitment to equity.”

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