Student’s call on ‘cooked’ debt inaction

Mehreen Faruqi joined protesters in criticising the “cooked” Albanese government. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Dylan Robinson

Protesters have gathered at Parliament House, calling for action on student poverty and the “cooked” student debt crisis ahead of tonight’s budget.

Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi joined members of the National Union of Students (NUS) and the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union in the vocal criticisms on Tuesday morning.

The National Union of Students held the protest on the lawns of Parliament House on Tuesday morning. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Dylan Robinson

Ms Faruqi called for student debts to be wiped and for university and TAFE courses to be made free.

In a post to social media, the NUS said their protest was part of a bigger question put to Labor over who the party is “actually fighting for” in this year’s budget.

“We need action for young Australians, action for students and action for those who are crying out for help at this very moment,” the NUS said.

The union also called into question the government’s spending on the nuclear-powered AUKUS submarines, demanding instead for funds to be redirected to address education costs and the public housing crisis.

“It’s clear this is a budget for the rich,” they said.

With the Albanese government forecasting the first budget surplus in 15 years, Ms Faruqi dragged Labor for “boasting and patting themselves on the back” for a “grotesque” $4bn in surplus.

Ms Faruqi criticised the ‘cooked’ Albanese government. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Dylan Robinson

“People don’t need accounting tricks when they’re skipping meals every single day,” she said.

“That is just cooked. This government is cooked.

“What we need is to wipe all student debt, we need uni and TAFE to be free, and on the way (to) doing that they can do something right now … they can scrap all indexation on student debt and they can raise the minimum repayment income.”

Students are feeling the pinch amid a cost of living crisis and a hefty increase to their student loans come June. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Dylan Robinson
The NUS called this year’s budget a ‘budget for the rich’. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Dylan Robinson

The annual indexation rate for those with higher student debts in 2023 is predicted to be around seven per cent, adding an extra $1500 in debt to an average $25,000 student loan.

Ms Faruqi also called for a freeze on rent increases and for welfare payments, including youth allowance, to be raised.