The Australian Greens support the ambition of providing greater transparency of repayment rates for VET students. We also support the intent to reform the treatment of VET Student Loans to allow it to be considered separately and distinctly from different HELP loans.
We do not support making students pay back their debt at a lower income threshold, as referenced in this bill.
This is being considered in the aftermath of a disastrous attempt to open up the VET sector to greater privatisation. Without that misguided excursion, this bill would not be necessary.
This should be instructive.
And yet, this bill does nothing to address the gradual slide into privatisation of the VET sector. It does nothing to improve student outcomes or course delivery. It does not address the affordability, reputation or funding challenges of the sector. It fiddles with the treatment of debts in a way that may offer some limited improvement in ease of data collection, but any promise of a benefit to students is marginal indeed.
There appears to be no justification for why VET loans should be sequenced for repayment only after other HELP debts have been repaid. As noted in the submission by the Pro Vice-Chancellor of VET Operations and Growth at the CQUniversity, Mr Peter Helibuth, it would be simpler to have students repay their debts in the order they were incurred.
It is curious that this is not the preferred option.