5 August 2013
With the announcement of the election for 7 September, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has kicked off its $1 million election campaign directed at maintaining the Greens’ balance of power in the Senate and the election of selected lower house candidates who commit to the union’s election priorities.
In announcing the campaign in June, NTEU president Jeannie Rea said the NTEU will be campaigning on issues important to higher education and it will not be making any donations to the Greens, or any individual candidate.
We don’t want to see the Labor Government voted out and a Coalition Government voted in but the ALP needs to hear loud and clear that the $4bn cuts to higher education since 2011 are plain dumb and undermining this country’s capacity to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.
On 30 July, the NTEU announced that it will throw its support behind independent Andrew Wilkie, Member for Denison (Tasmania), in the Federal election. Matt McGowan, NTEU Assistant National Secretary told a media conference at the University of Tasmania
Andrew Wilkie has the courage of his convictions. Higher education has always been high in his priorities. Wilkie was one of the first members of Parliament to oppose the Labor Government’s $2.3 bn cut to universities and student support in April. He seconded Adam Bandt’s motion condemning the cuts and calling for their reversal and was one of only five MPs in the House of Representatives to vote in support – while Labor and Coalition MPs opted not to reject the cuts.
Both major parties seem determined to slash university and student funding any time there’s a budget shortfall.
The decision to support certain House of Representatives campaigns, particularly Adam Bandt’s campaign to retain the seat of Melbourne, is a little more contentious than the general Senate campaign (which actually makes a lot of sense, in terms of NTEU’s interests).
Bandt’s Labor challenger Cath Bowtell is highly regarded within parts of the NTEU as well as the broader labour movement, having served as an assistant Victorian state secretary in the early days of the union and as a senior ACTU official.
Bowtell told the Crikey media site that while it wasn’t for the Labor Party to tell unions how to campaign, she had “a really long track record advocating for tertiary education, VET schools and early childhood education and no one asked what my view was, which was disappointing”.