The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) this week launched a $1million campaign encouraging Australians to vote for the Greens in the Senate amid concerns the two major parties’ plan to cut university funding.
The NTEU has historically been a politically neutral union and says its first-time decision to support a party aims to draw attention to the state of university funding.
NTEU Queensland branch secretary Margaret Lee told The Source while some of the members aren’t happy about the unions’ support for the Greens in the Senate, they recognise the reasons behind the campaign.
“We think in Queensland that about 80 per cent of the members absolutely support being involved in the campaign,” she said.
“Not everybody wants to get active in the campaign, but understand why the union’s doing this.”
Ms Lee said the NTEU will not be endorsing the Greens’ overall policies and the campaign is “only in respect of their higher education funding policies and their policies on industrial relations legislation”.
“We have a history of not providing any support or recommendations to any political party, other than saying that nearly always, all conservative parties underfund the universities,” she said.
“So it’s a big concern for us that we maintain the balance of power with the Greens in the Senate, that’s our major objective.”
Ms Lee said an NTEU council – made up of about 120 elected branch representatives – decided last week to launch the campaign.
“On this occasion we decided now was the time for us to bite the bullet and say to the major parties, ‘you aren’t funding higher education well enough, you’re putting students below the poverty line and it’s time for this to stop’.”