Candidate Messages To Students

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Across the afternoon of Tuesday the 26th and the morning of Wednesday the 27th of April candidates from Dawson (Liberal: Andrew Willcox; Labour: Shane Hamilton; Greens: Paula Creen; One Nation: Julie Hall), Herbert (Liberal: Phillip Thompson; Labour: John Ring; Greens: Scott Humphery), Kennedy (Liberal: Bryce Macdonald; Labour: Jason Brandon; Greens: Jennifer Cox; Katters: Bob Katter), and Leichhardt (Liberal: Warren Entsch; Labour: Elida Faith; Greens: Phillip Musumeci) were emailed regarding their stance on five (5) student issues:

  1. Centrelink Age of Independence 
  2. Child Care Assistance for Part-time and Full-time Students
  3. Commonwealth Caps for Tertiary Courses
  4. Student Debt / Free Education
  5. Rent Control, Housing Affordability and Public Housing for Students

Candidates were also given the space to provide additional information they wanted to communicate to students. 

Of these 14 candidates, 4 responded:

Liberal National Party  |  Herbert  |  Phillip Thompson 

The Australian Greens |  Leichhardt  |  Phillip Musumeci 

The Australian Greens |  Kennedy  |  Jennifer Cox

The Australian Greens |  Dawson  |  Paula Creen 

1. Stance on Lowering or Removing the Age of Independence (22) for Centrelink Payments

For information on the age of independence visit the services australia website.

Phillip Thompson

Youth Allowance is based on the principle that financial support for students is a shared responsibility between parents, the Australian Government and the young person themselves. It is expected that parents should support their children, where they are able to do so, until they achieve financial independence or reach the age of 22 years, whichever comes first.

Students aged under 22 years are generally considered financially dependent on their parents and are subject to both parental and personal means-testing. Parental means testing ensures that young people in similar circumstances have similar entitlements

 Phillip Musumeci  |  Jennifer Cox  |  Paula Creen

Right now people under 22 years old are assessed by Centrelink as a dependent unless they meet one of the criteria for independence. To make it easier for people under 22 to claim payments as an independent, the Greens will remove the parental income and asset test for those not living at home, and lower the age of eligibility for Jobseeker to 18.

We’ll also raise the rate of all income support payments, including Youth Allowance, Jobseeker, Austudy and pensions, so that everyone can receive payment above the poverty line at $88 per day.


1. Stance on Child Care Assistance Available for Parents who are Studying Part and Full time.

A variety of support can be found for child care assistance depending on the situation. Study Assist [1] provides an introduction to what is available for student parents. Services Australia[2]  also has information on Child Care Subsidy. 

Phillip Thompson

Our total investment in the child care system next year is around $11 billion, targeted with

more support for families on low and middle incomes. Subsidies of up to 85 per cent of fees

charged by child care services are paid to families. Since 7 March 2022, families have

automatically been receiving higher subsidies of up to 95 per cent for a second or third child

aged five and under in child care. Families receive support based on their participation,

which includes work, training, volunteering or studying, including those studying at University

 Phillip Musumeci  |  Jennifer Cox  |  Paula Creen

Youth Allowance is based on the principle that financial support for students is a shared

responsibility between parents, the Australian Government and the young person

The Greens will invest $19bn over the next four years to ensure early childhood education and childcare is free and accessible for everyone, regardless of how much you are working or studying.

We will extend universal access to early childhood education for all 3 and 4 year olds to 24 hours a week.


1. Stance on Commonwealth Caps for Tertiary Course Funding.

A.   Consider the 113% fee increase in HASS courses for students in 2021.

Phillip Thompson

Under our Job Ready Graduate reforms, which commenced in 2021, university students who study in areas of expected employment growth are paying less for their degree as the Government incentivises students to make more job-relevant decisions about their education.

 In 2022, students are paying:

• 42 per cent less to study teaching, nursing, clinical psychology, English and languages

•  59 per cent less to study agriculture and maths, and

• 18 per cent less to study health, architecture, environmental science, IT, and engineering

We are supporting students at record levels to participate in higher education:

• We’re investing almost $20 billion in higher education in 2022 – this is 32% higher than under Labor ($14.9 billion in 2013)

• There are 130,000 more domestic students studying at Australian universities now than

in 2013 under Labor.

 Phillip Musumeci  |  Jennifer Cox  |  Paula Creen

The Federal Government’s caps on CGS funding are just the latest in a series of cuts to higher education over the last decade. The Greens led the fight against the Liberals’ funding cuts and fee hikes that are pushing students into decades of debt.

We have committed to reverse the cuts and boost university funding by 10% to enable quality teaching, learning and research.


Stance on Student Debt.

A.   If you believe education should be free, please outline how you would seek to realistically accomplish this.

Phillip Thompson

The current HECS-HELP arrangements are working to support a record number of Australian students participate in university and ensure that tertiary education does not have a cost barrier at the point of entry.

Since HECS was introduced in 1989, it has been accepted in Australia that it is fair for individuals to make a contribution to the costs of their study (currently, individuals cover close to half of the costs of a degree via HECS). Given the large benefits of a university education (the average graduate earns $1 million more over their career compared to the average school leaver) our HECS system is fair.

Asking all Australian taxpayers, a majority of whom have not been to university, to pay for 100% of every degree is unfair and inequitable.

HECS-HELP loans are only paid back when individuals can afford it (repayments kick in once an individual earns $47,000). HECS-HELP is free of real interest.

The Green’s policy to wipe HECS-HELP debt is incredibly expensive: it would cost taxpayers at least $60 billion.

 Phillip Musumeci  |  Jennifer Cox  |  Paula Creen

In the balance of power, the Greens will push the next government to make education genuinely free from childcare through to university and TAFE. We will abolish HECS debt and bring back free university.

Not only is free education a basic right, but it’s entirely possible – many current MPs, including the Prime Minister, got free uni. The Greens will fund free uni and TAFE by taxing the wealth of billionaires, ending public subsidies to coal and gas companies, and making big corporations pay their fair share of tax.


Stance on Rent Control, Housing Affordability and Public Housing Available for Students.

Phillip Thompson

Unfortunately, the State Labor Government has consistently failed to meet their targets for building new social housing, despite receiving $1.6 billion for housing and homelessness services.

We established the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) which has supported 15,000 homes. By providing an additional $2 billion

in low-cost financing in this year’s Budget, a total of 27,500 homes will be supported by NHFIC funding.

Combined with our $1 billion housing-enabling infrastructure facility supporting the supply of 6,900 new dwellings, almost 35,000 social, affordable and market dwellings will be delivered by the Coalition.

We also expect to spend $5 billion on Commonwealth Rent Assistance.

Meanwhile, we’ve supported 60,000 people get into their own homes with the Home Guarantee Scheme, which we will expand to make available up to 50,000 places each year. This includes a new Regional Home Guarantee open to non-

first home buyers.

 Phillip Musumeci  |  Jennifer Cox  |  Paula Creen

The vast majority of politicians don’t know what it’s like to struggle to pay the rent or mortgage. Labour and the Liberals will not bring down housing costs because they do not want to reduce the profits of their developer and property investor donors.

The Greens refuse all corporate donations, and we are the only party with a plan to build enough public housing to meet waitlist needs, and make housing more affordable for everyone.

In the balance of power, the Greens will push the next government to build 1 million quality affordable homes in Australia over 20 years.

This includes public housing where rent is capped at 25% of income and you get a lifetime right to your home, and a shared ownership scheme where first home buyers can own up to 75% equity in their home for just $300,000 and sell it back to the government if they want to leave.

We will also cap rent increases, strengthen renters’ rights and abolish ‘no grounds’ evictions, so renters can stay in their home unless they’ve breached the conditions of their lease.

We’ll also level the playing field by phasing out negative gearing and capital gains tax handouts for people who already have more than 1 investment property.


Additional Messages

Paula Creen

Everyone knows someone who has struggled to get to the starting line. It’s not acceptable for Australian families to live in poverty while billionaires and corporations hoard money far beyond their needs. The Greens will make billionaires and big corporations pay their fair share of tax to build a better future for the rest of us.

Phillip Musumeci

I was one of six academic advisers at JCU Cairns and my main job was to help prevent students from dropping out. With the cost of living and education, students were juggling work and study, with some working many hours. After an exit from one of my startups, I was a little annoyed at my performance but felt a lot better after setting up some uni student prizes: Don Close Prize in Software Engineering, John Ridd prize in mathematics, and Bev Frangos prize in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

After a few years of meeting with students about their studies, I found the best first question to them was “How many part-time jobs do you need to keep working while studying?” Answering 3 meant there’d be almost zero chance to graduate, 2 meant that they might just make it, 1 meant there was a solid chance, and 0 was unheard of (students with enough time to commit solely to study rarely needed help).

It was heartrending to know any student that lost their opportunity to graduate into their chosen field. Remember that all students had satisfied entrance tests, so when they dropped out, the country incurred a significant opportunity cost too, in terms of workforce capability.

Now more than ever, we can’t afford that loss.

Jennifer Cox

I am a University Alumni of JCU Psychology (HONS) 2001. Some of my fondest memories are from attending university in Townsville – I was lucky because I could get AUSTUDY, focus on study and not have to work. Every person deserves a chance to experience what I did and have access to the benefits university has given me.

Since the 90s things have changed considerably: insecure work, stagnant wages and less and less support for education means students are having to work more than 1 job to stay in school.

The people who are making the decisions about university students got a free degree, yet they are happy for the next generations to struggle to get an education, and leave with a huge debt!

Every Australian deserves the best education, without being sentenced to debt the size of a small home loan to get it.

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