Terri Butler MP, Labor for Griffith

10,000 to miss out on a uni place because of Liberals' cuts

With Catherine King MP

Data released today by Universities Australia indicates that 10,000 people could miss out on a uni place this year because of Malcolm Turnbull’s $2.2 billion of cuts. 

This is a cruel blow to the thousands of Year 12 graduates who studied so hard to get into uni.  

In 2017, Labor blocked the Liberals’ uni cuts in the Senate.  But just a few weeks ago Malcolm Turnbull by-passed the Parliament and announced billions of dollars in back door uni cuts instead.

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More than 2000 Griffith families worse off under Turnbull government's childcare package

The Turnbull government’s own secret hit list has revealed 2014 Southside families in the Griffith electorate will be worse off under its new child care package come July 2. 

These families are part of the 279,000 families around Australia who will be worse off under the Liberals' new package.

Under the Government’s package, families will have to satisfy a complex set of rules to qualify for government assistance – with a work test and a means test set to hit vulnerable families the worst. The work test will require families to satisfy minimum levels of ‘approved activities’ each fortnight – which will knock thousands of low income families out of the system.

This new slug on families is on top of the 18 per cent growth in fees (to March 2017) since the election of the Liberal Government – which means families are on average paying over $2,000 more a year. 

The Turnbull Government is seriously out of touch when it claims credit for an increase in fees, and for introducing a new childcare package which leaves over 2000 families in Griffith worse off. 

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Malcolm Turnbull must respond to concerns about landline reliability under the NBN

Today's South-East Advertiser has reported on locals' concerns about being able to get help in a power outage, with landlines becoming less reliable once people have the NBN.

Read the story here.

Paul Keene and I held an NBN crisis meeting in Carina recently, and concerns were raised about landlines not working during power outages.

Towards the end of last year there was advice from NBN that neither the Fibre to the Node nor HFC network can be relied on during a power outage: 

“Equipment connected over the NBN network will not work during a power blackout. An exception is if you have Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) with battery backup, in which case you will get up to 5 hours of power provided the battery has been correctly maintained.”

In other words: Malcolm Turnbull's decision to drop full fibre-to-the-premises in favour of a mix of different technologies, including cable tv, has made landlines less reliable when the power goes out.

This is a huge worry for people with medical conditions, and for retirees and those on low incomes.

People with medical conditions, who have medical alarm devices, often depend on a working phone service through their landline.

The NBN co announced a subsidy for monitored alarms. But vulnerable users of non-monitored medical alarms continue to be excluded from the NBN medical alarm subsidy scheme. This should change. Monitored alarms are more expensive. People on low incomes - including elderly pensioners - shouldn't be forced to get rid of their lower-cost non-monitored alarms and pay for expensive monitored alarms. There should be support for people with unmonitored alarms to be able to get back-up batteries for when the power goes out.

But even that's not enough, given that the NBN co has admitted that batteries will only be reliable for people who are lucky enough to have fibre to the premises.

Malcolm Turnbull needs to tell Australians what he's going to do to make sure people can have access to a landline no matter what type of technology they are left with after the NBN is implemented in their area.

So far, the acting Minister has just told people to get a mobile phone as well. Not good enough.  

Shadow Minister for Health Catherine King has said that the risks facing users of non-monitored medical alarms on the NBN are not trivial.

"Labor is calling on the Government to clarify what assistance will be available for vulnerable Australians migrating to the NBN,” Ms King has said.

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