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Fine Gael graduate tax is just third level fees in disguise – Doherty

18 March, 2009 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Speaking today as Fine Gael launched its proposal for a graduate tax Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Senator Pearse Doherty said the highlights that party’s hypocritical approach to the campaign against the reintroduction of third level fees. Senator Doherty said the graduate tax is third level fees in disguise.

He said, "While preaching to third level students that he is totally against the reintroduction of fees and will be fighting along with them, in reality it is quite clear that Deputy Hayes is talking out of both sides of his mouth on this issue.

"What Deputy Hayes and his Fine Gael Party have proposed today is simply third level fees in disguise.

"The graduate tax, or as it is called in Australia ‘the Higher Education Contribution Scheme’, is a scheme whereby students have their fees paid for upfront by the government and then pay back the amount owed through extra taxation.

"The Australian system has grown so complex that it needs approximately AUS $5 billion to overhaul and comes as a response to a 272 page review of the system. The Higher Education Contribution Scheme as a system is broken and flawed. Originally created to increase access, it has the opposing affect. Students finish university steeped in debt and many students will never earn enough to repay their loan.

"Should a graduate tax system be implemented it would be upwards of a decade before any cost would be recouped by the state, so the argument that this system would be able to fund the sector is completely flawed.

"Sinn Féin is very clear on its position. We will not accept fees through the back door by increasing the registration fee, we will not accept fees through the front door by full-on tuition fees, and we will not accept fees through the side door by way of this fundamentally flawed graduate tax.

"Higher education benefits the entire society and should not be subject to these disgraceful attacks from the government and the Fine Gael party. It should be paid for through a fair and progressive taxation system." ENDS

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