FEDERAL Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch is supporting a petition to scrap a compulsory levy imposed on James Cook University students by the Labor Government.
As of this year, local students are forced to pay up to $263 a year after Labor, supported by the Greens, passed legislation the Higher Education Amendment (Student Services and Amenities) Act – in October to allow the levy to be charged.
Part-time students will pay up to $131.50 a year.
Mr Entsch said the tax would cover the costs of services provided by student unions and universities, funding that should be provided by the government.
“The Coalition abolished compulsory student unionism in 2006 but Labor and the Greens are content to lump an extra burden on students and in many cases parents who finance their children’s tertiary education,” he said.
“It’s another cost North Queenslanders just cannot afford. Labor and the Greens are making it difficult and grossly unfair for people to earn a higher education.
“Full-time students have limited incomes and now they have to pay additional fees, which most cannot afford. They already have costs in the form of tuition fees, textbooks, rent, fuel, groceries and utilities. How will they afford to pay this tax?
“Everyday living costs are already creeping up because of government decisions such as carbon tax.”
Mr Entsch said most JCU students were unwilling or unable to use the services funded by the new tax because of time constraints.
“Most of these services are already provided by universities, governments and the private sector,” he said.
“External students who don’t even step foot on campus even have to pay a portion of the tax.”
A petition that calls on the government to revert back to the old system of voluntary service fees has been launched.
Federal Member for Herbert Ewen Jones has spoken about the issue in Parliament.
“University students are right to question why Labor and the Greens voted to force them to pay for something they don’t want or don’t use,” Mr Jones said.
Mr Entsch said fellow North Queensland MP Bob Katter was not present to vote on the legislation.
“It’s disappointing that given the impact this legislation will have on the region, while Ewen and I show up for the vote,” he said.
“Given the precarious nature of Parliament, every vote is critical to the livelihoods of families in our regions.”
Mr Entsch has encouraged students to sign the petition, which is available by clicking: