Peta Credlin: Welcome back. Let’s talk HECS and the Government’s move to increase the rate at which graduates pay off their HECS debt. Now, a lot of debate in Parliament this week. Some arguing the increase is too high, so it’s unfair. The Government responding, well no, students need to pay back what they’ve borrowed from taxpayers. To help us understand the detail, I’m joined now by Shadow Minister for Education, Sarah Henderson. Sarah, welcome. I finished school and started university in the first year that HECS came in. I had a HECS debt, I had two degrees, I paid it off. What’s the problem? Surely students have got to pay this debt?
Senator Henderson: Well, Peta, good evening, great to join you. The HECS debt student loan scheme has been a very successful scheme. I also paid HECS when I did my degree. But what we are seeing with this government is driving up inflation, which is now so high, it’s meant an incredibly high indexation rate. So today HECS debts go up some 7.1 per cent and this will cost Australians on average $1,700 more. And frankly, Peta, it’s just not good enough that the government has shown no interest in addressing another cost of living pressure on some three million Australians.
So, I’ve made some immediate suggestions, I’ve called on the Government to cancel its ridiculous Startup Year scheme, which is a loan scheme for student entrepreneurs where the Government wants to charge students for doing courses, full-fee paying courses, when they can do these courses currently for free. And I’ve also called on the Government to address the situation with the antiquated ATO tax payments system, where students are being indexed for loans they’ve already paid off.
So, there are some major things that the Government could immediately fix. Education Minister, Jason Clare, has put his head in the sand and has shown no interest in the massive burden this will place on so many Australians. And even mortgage brokers, Peta, are saying that this will impact on the borrowing power of those who have a HECS debt, because it will mean less borrowing power due to the very, very significant rise that Australians are suffering today.
Peta Credlin: We’ll see what happens. But I do take your point on the ATO timing of these payments, I think that’s a very fair point. And the worry is these kids getting into homes, which is hard enough as it is. Thank you for your time, Sarah Henderson.