Release type: Transcript


Interview - Today Show


The Hon Jason Clare MP
Minister for Education

SARAH ABO: Australians are $1,200 better off this morning after the Government announced it was wiping $3 billion worth of HECS debt. We are joined now by the Education Minister, Jason Clare, live in Canberra. Minister, good to see you. Many students will be saying, 'about time'. I mean, indexation rates meant that loans were growing faster than Aussies could pay them off. I guess the question is, though, is there much relief in the immediate term for these students?

JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: What it means is that it cuts their debt, and it means that they'll be able to pay and pay off that debt sooner. This is something that students have been calling for for the last year, and understandably so, Sarah, as you make the point, there was a big hike in HECS debt indexation last year. Students said that was unfair. They called for us to change it, and I've heard that, and that's why we're responding. So, for the average HECS debt of, say, $26,000, it'll mean that their debt will be cut by about $1,200. If you've got a HECS debt of about $45,000, it'll be cut by about $2,000. But to your point about immediate help, what we're announcing today, which is providing financial support for teaching students and nursing students and students who are doing social work degrees to work in domestic violence refuges, that's the sort of in-your-pocket financial support right now that's going to help students who are struggling to pay the bills to do that, and finish their courses.

ABO: All right, so an overall reduction in the overall debt, but not the repayments, that won't be reduced. I just want to get you quickly, Minister, as well. You would have seen that disgraceful post by those four male Year 11 students in Melbourne. It's so unacceptable. Is it enough they've been suspended, do you think?

CLARE: It is disgusting and appalling. I'm glad that the students have been suspended. I also understand that the female students are receiving counselling from the school. That's what I would expect the school to do. You know, if the school wasn't acting like that, then my department has serious powers to investigate as well as to potentially remove funding. After all that we have seen over the last, not just week, but years here, it demonstrates that there is still a lot more work to do. It's a job not just for schools but for parents and political leaders like me as well. Part of that is providing funding to schools right across the country for respectful relationship courses and consent courses. I'm signing agreements with all States and Territories at the moment to do that, and that's about $77 million that will roll out across the country to roll out those courses in every school.

ABO: Yeah. All right. Well, we have the principal on later in the show, so we'll put that to him as well. Minister, thanks for your time this morning.

CLARE: No worries.