The Andrews Labor Government has joined with members of the crossbench in the Upper House to vote down moves by the Liberal Nationals to exempt Victorian universities from a crippling tax hike.

Last night Victoria’s Legislative Council debated, and passed, the State Taxation and Mental Health Acts Amendment Bill – which seeks to increase payroll tax on many Victorian businesses.

This includes our world-leading universities, which have been brought to their knees by the COVID-19 bungles of the Andrews Labor Government, and the ongoing loss of international students.

Now is absolutely the worst time to be hitting universities with more taxes.

But last night, Labor joined with Fiona Patten (Reason Party), Andy Meddick (Animal Justice), Stuart Grimley (Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party), Rod Barton (Transport Matters) and Jeff Bourman (Shooters and Fishers) to vote to squeeze our universities for tens of millions of dollars in extra taxes every year.

An amendment by the Liberal Nationals would have exempted universities from the tax increases.

We desperately need our world-class higher education sector to continue to provide a great education to young Victorians, to produce cutting edge research, and to create and support hundreds of thousands of Victorian jobs.

But for some of our universities, this new tax will amount to over $10 million every year. That will mean savage cuts to courses, research and jobs.

Aside from massive tax increases, the Andrews Labor Government clearly has no plan and it’s putting the economic recovery at risk that the Victorian people have worked so hard to earn.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Higher Education, Matt Bach:

“The Andrews Labor Government has sold-out Victoria’s world-leading universities, which create and support hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“With universities on their knees due to Labor’s ongoing COVID-19 bundles, now is absolutely the worst time to be hitting them with tens of millions of dollars worth of more taxes.”