Education Minister Christopher Pyne will split his contentious university reforms into two separate bills, separating $1.9 billion of savings from a plan to deregulate universities, in a bid to push the changes through the Senate.
“We want to clear away any distractions or hurdles that stand in the path of the crossbenchers openly considering the government’s deregulation agenda,” he said.
Mr Pyne also confirmed $150 million in funding for the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme (NCRIS) will continue for 12 months.
The two announcements from the Education Minister on Monday show the first signs of change from the hard-line rhetoric he has held throughout this debate.
Speaking on the ABC’s Insiders on Sunday, Mr Pyne indicated an all-or-nothing approach to the reforms.
“I’m contemplating victory on Wednesday,” he said on Sunday.
“There are consequences for not voting for this reform, and that’s very important for the cross benchers to understand.”
“The consequences are that potentially 1700 researchers will lose their jobs.”
The new bills are to be debated Tuesday for a vote Wednesday.
The change comes hours after newly independent former Palmer Senator Glenn Lazarus said he wouldn’t vote for the tied bill.
“There’s just no real reason for him to come and talk to me, because that’s the one thing I will not vote … for, is the deregulation of its fees,” Mr Lazarus said on Radio National Breakfast.
Whilst Mr Pyne announced the split and Parliament debated the bill, students around Australia posted photos to Twitter of themselves chained to monuments with the hashtag #unchainourfuture.
Student opposition to the proposed deregulation has been vehement since it was first suggested in the 2014 budget.
— #FreeEducation (@Stu4FreeEd) March 15, 2015
— Amy Thomas (@amyclairethomas) March 16, 2015