No ducking Robb

The Australian    |    25 April 2012

Someone wrote last year that if the Gillard government had a duck, it would drown: “belly up, gurgle gurgle, plop! – there goes another duck.” 

According to Simon Marginson, the Gillard Government has run out of ducks, so it is imperative to consider what an Abbott Coalition government portends for universities, research and training.  Will the new government begin with a major cut in public funding as happened under Howard and is suggested by the Abbott fiscal settings — abolish the carbon tax and mining tax, and cut tens of billions out of public spending?  Will the demand-driven system continue, and will a Coalition government deregulate price?  While Coalition spokesman on higher education is Senator Brett Mason displays a genuine commitment to higher education and research in the national interest, assuming he takes the gig post-election, he would be relatively junior and lack heft.  Marginson suggests that advocacy (lobbying) should be focussed on Coalition finance shadow Andrew Robb, who will be at the centre of decision making in an Abbott government.  Continuing attention needs also to be paid to the Greens, who will retain pivotal role in the Senate and therefore have the capacity to at least modify policy measures, if not block them altogether.

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