This government is providing no assistance to Australian universities through this pandemic. Why are these jobs not worth keeping? Why are our students not worth supporting? Why are private universities eligible for assistance but not our public universities? We know that the answer is ideology. Universities are not something that this Liberal government care about or have ever cared about, but they do claim to care about our economy, and they are remiss in neglecting our third-largest export sector through this crisis. Universities Australia predicts that Australian universities will lose $16 billion over the next three years due to COVID-19. The government's response has been to exclude universities from JobKeeper, to refuse to provide a support package, to leave youth allowance students out in the cold by refusing to broaden the eligibility criteria and to leave international students to fend for themselves or go home even though borders are closed.
There are five universities in my electorate, and they are among the best in the world. Our Australian National University is facing a $250 million shortfall and the University of Canberra a $30 million shortfall. Staff at universities all around the country are looking at job losses and pay cuts, and it seems we need to remind this government that these are the very workers looking at a vaccine for COVID-19 and educating people to take on the jobs of the future. I call on the government to act now and save our universities.