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Pyne: uni reform still on table

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The federal cabinet minister who championed university deregulation has defended a decision to delay the policy, saying there isn’t enough time to get it up and running by next year.

New education minister Simon Birmingham on Thursday announced the plan, twice blocked by the Senate, would not go ahead in 2016.

His predecessor Christopher Pyne told the Nine Network on Friday the reforms required a long lead time, so “even if they were passed tomorrow it would be very hard to start within three months time”.

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A raft of other ministers insisted the delay was a pragmatic decision that gave Senator Birmingham time to consult properly on what to do next.

“Obviously we consider this to be important reform,” Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told ABC TV about fee deregulation.

He said Mr Pyne had done an outstanding job in making sure universities were on board with plans for change.

Cabinet colleague Josh Frydenberg said the government was committed to strongly supporting universities.

“We need our tertiary system to be placed on a sustainable funding basis for the future,” he told ABC radio.

Independent senator Glenn Lazarus is claiming a personal victory following the government’s decision to put deregulation on hold.

“I feel as though they have come to their senses,” he told ABC Radio.

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