John Howard’s VSU

QUT, Student rally against Voluntary Student Unionism 2005.


Where do you start with John Howard, the lies about asylum seekers throwing children overboard, the lies about weapons of mass destruction, the lies about the Australian Wheat Board…

… no I can’t cover all the lies there are so many…

so I’ll just describe some of the things he’s done which affect students directly.

He has kept the income support payments so low that many younger students are trying to survive on 44 % of the Henderson poverty line.

Until 1997 HECS fees contributed about 20% of the cost of a degree. The Nelson changes will raise that to 44% without the surcharge and up to 56% if the surcharge is applied.

The decreasing Commonwealth contribution to the cost of running universities means that Universities are under pressure to either increase costs on students or cut the quality of services and education that students receive.

The bigger your HECS debt the longer it will take before you can hope to establish a family, buy a home or even afford a decent car.

Nelson set out to destroy your guild so that you will have less chance to pressure this Government to behave responsibly.

These days most student have to work as well as study.

The Government has removed the protection against unfair dismissal. It has set out to destroy the Arbitration Commission and the system of Award wages which were the foundation stone of the Australian workers welfare state. Wages are being slashed and many are being forced to work in unsafe conditions.

I know that there are other speakers will cover some of these issues in greater detail and so I want to concentrate on the issues which affect some of the poorest Australians. The Government is now imposing increased requirements on students and other social security recipients before they will be paid.

The Government has attacked disability support pensioners, lone parents and the unemployed – particularly the young unemployed. Many of the people who have a disability, are sole parents or are unemployed are students too. In 2002 the Government imposed 386,946 breach penalties on social security recipients. This left many without funds for 26 weeks.

The changes to the disability support pension which come into effect in July will mean that many disability support pensioners will be $93 per week worse of than at present. A single parent (with two children the youngest of whom is over 8 years of age who is working 15 hours per week) will be $ 86 per week worse off.

If they are also students they stand to lose even more.

The changes will mean Full time students will get the lower paid Austudy rather than Newstart, those with disabilities wont get the pensioner educational supplement of $31.20 a week on top of the other cuts.

As far as John Howard and his Government are concerned ten years, ten long years they’ve lived ten years too long.

Billy Connolly reckons that John Howard fulfils only one useful function:
He shows us what Harry Potter will look like when he gets old.