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Bradford's costing blunder

Liz Gordon MP Tue Sep 21 1999

Liz Gordon
MPA massive blunder has been made by the government in attacking the costing of the Alliance's tertiary education package.

The Tertiary Education Minister has claimed that the policy would cost a billion dollars a year to implement, but the Alliance says his claim doesn't stand up to any scrutiny.

According to a press release he issued yesterday, the Minister's costing includes an allowance of $334 million for 'a 15% increase in the number of students.' But the Minister is now denying that an increase in student numbers is possible.

'It blows his credibility out of the water. He has plucked numbers out of thin air and he is relying on the news media to repeat them as authentic figures without checking them,' Alliance education spokesperson Dr Liz Gordon said.

On National Radio's Morning Report today, Mr Bradford denied there would be any increase in student numbers as a result of removing fees, saying it was impossible because of changing demographics.

'Within 24 hours of making his claim about the cost of the Alliance policy, Mr Bradford has admitted his costings do not stack up,' Dr Gordon said.

She's not surprised, because the Alliance initially tried to confirm its costings by asking parliamentary questions. Mr Bradford replied then that no accurate figures were available. The Alliance costed the policy by hiring independent economic consultants.

'Now Mr Bradford suddenly claims he has costed the policy. In fact, he has just plucked numbers out of thin air and he is crossing his fingers that his claims will be repeated without being checked.'

Dr Gordon says the biggest flaw in Mr Bradford's costings is that he didn't factor in sufficiently the savings from scrapping the loans scheme.

'The cost the Minister gave for removing fees and interest is probably on the low side. But then he only takes subtracts the administrative cost of the student loans scheme - not the savings from no longer having to pay out student loans nor losses from loans which will never be repaid,' Dr Gordon said.


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