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Ogilvy: Fees maxima a cautious compromise

Media Statement
For immediate release Friday, 30 July, 2004

Ogilvy: Fees maxima a cautious compromise

United Future education spokesman Bernie Ogilvy today welcomed the Government decision on which courses will be subject to the fees maxima, calling it a cautious compromise.

The fees maxima was included in Budget 2004 and today's announcement that not all courses will be subject to the maxima. Courses still being considered in the funding category review and courses that are capital and cost intensive such as hairdressing, beauty therapy and outdoor recreation are excluded. The second category of courses will, however have to cut its fees by 5% each year until fees are under the maxima.

"Credit should be given to Tertiary Education Minister Steve Maharey for a cautious compromise towards private providers. That is an achievement for a Labour Government," Mr Ogilvy said.

"I am also pleased that he hasn't taken a slash-and-burn approach to private training establishments. That's what would have happened last year."

The Government, however, was making the mistake of picking winners and losers, he said.

"Why put a maxima on the private sector at all - if not for ideological reasons?

"Let the private sector charge what they want. Let them charge themselves out of existence or into existence. They don't have the blanket security of government coffers.

"Left unadjusted, the fees maxima would have been a total disaster for the sector. Private providers have suffered under the unfair burden of the fees maxima. Make no mistake, many will continue to suffer next year.

"I know this comes as a tremendous relief to private education providers and will allow them to continue to work in the sector. High fees are charged because of high costs.

"Creating exemptions for the fees maxima offers a breathing space for the exempted categories. But the root cause - the fees maxima - remains. Until the Minister removes it, he is just picking on education businesses unable to fight back," Mr Ogilvy said.

Ends

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