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Rant Of The Day THIS RANT 21/06/96

Rant Of The Day is where I get to mouth off about whatever I feel like for however long I like. Theoretically, I'll update my whinge/opinion piece every weekday; in practice, maybe not so often.

Howard and HECS: what a jerk

I've been watching the recent stoushes over proposed tertiary education cuts with sympathy and a certain sense of resignation. Given the Liberal's long history of co-opting tertiary studies for the well-heeled, it's hardly surprising that nothing is being ruled out in their bid to save the odd dollar or two. AUSTUDY? Who needs it? Student bludgers! HECS? Look how much they drink, they must be rolling in it! Clever country? Look who we voted for!

As ever, when the hip-pocket nerve enters the picture, you get even madder. This morning's Sydney Morning Herald informs me that one proposal being considered is to make HECS repayments indexed at commercial levels, rather than the level of inflation. Would this be the housing rate? The credit card rate? The number of bottles of beer drunk in the Department of Finance on a Friday afternoon?

And never mind the ethics. The thought of having a HECS debt was itself something that gave me much food for thought before I entered university. Had I known it was a commercial-level loan, I don't think I would have been going, somehow. Now, of course, I don't have a choice. The interest rate can be set wherever they like, and I'll just have to pay it. Maybe I can become an 'Aussie Battler' and appear on A Current Affair.

Apparently, one of the things the government wants to encourage is up-front payment of HECS fees. Yes, we all know this attracts a discount. When I was at uni, the people getting the discount as often as not were also the ones whose parents had given them cars and paid for them to move into a residential college, even when they already lived locally. Personally, I was flat out coming up with the $350 union fees at the beginning of the year, never mind a couple of thousand bucks to ease the government's fiscal pain and keep my university running.

I'm still not surprised at the proposal. But boy am I pissed off.


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