Whilst we have all been distracted by Choppergate and passionately discussing Adam Goodes and marriage equality, I have a sinking feeling we have been sold out and not just by the TPP. The tea leaves are telling me that the crossbenchers may have sold out on higher education reform.
Today I saw David Leyonjhelm interviewed and he was purring about his success in destroying the wind industry. He said seven of the eight crossbench Senators had combined to achieve this and that they are realising the power they have when they agree.
When asked if there had been any progress on the budget measures that were still blocked in the Senate he immediately said yes, there had been some successful negotiation.
Apparently Greg Hunt was not happy about the wind farm embargo but Tony Abbott weighed in with his support because “he very much wanted their support” on another matter.
The alarm bells started ringing when I read in the Guardian:
“The Abbott government is spending $150,000 outsourcing its negotiations with crossbench senators and the university sector about the higher education package that has been blocked twice by the upper house.
The talks are being led by Robert Griew, a consultant who was until recently an associate secretary in the federal Department of Education and Training with responsibility for higher education policy.
Griew is now a principal of the Nous Group, a firm that has won a federal government contract to assess “stakeholder views” on higher education, including the Coalition’s push to deregulate university fees.
The department’s contract with Nous Group was worth $150,000 and would run from 13 July to 5 August, according to the AusTender website, which cited the “need for independent research or assessment”.
Griew has sought meetings with crossbench senators, telling them the education minister, Christopher Pyne, wanted to bring the legislation back to the parliament during the spring sittings.”
For starters, what the hell are we paying Christopher Pyne for? Is he so objectionable that he can’t be the person to do the negotiation? Is there no-one in his Department that is able to brief the Senators and negotiate with the university sector?
But even more disturbing was Leyonjhelm’s smile. Have they sold out our kids to pander to the woman who doesn’t want a wind farm next door? Surely not?
I have a bad feeling . . .