Thursday, June 13, 2024

‘Helicopter money to buy votes’: Aussies outraged at Albo’s social media stunt

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Incensed Aussies have piled on Anthony Albanese after a post about removing $3 billion of student debt backfired on the Prime Minister.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has announced his budget will wipe “$3 billion in student debt” for three million Australians.

“For 35 years now, our student loan system has supported millions of people who study hard to chase their dream,” Mr Chalmers said.

“But spikes in inflation have exposed a flaw in this system and put young people under unfair pressure.

“We are fixing that, and we are changing that so that it won’t happen again.

“It will wipe $3 billion in student debt for over three million Australians and save the average person around $1,200.”

At the federal budget, the Labor government announced it would change the HECS indexation rate to be set against either the Consumer Price Index or the Wage Price Index, whichever was lower.

The commitment means a student’s HECS debt would be indexed by four per cent rather than 4.7 per cent in 2024 and 2023’s 7.1 per cent indexation rate will be backdated to 3.2 per cent.

To remind Aussies of the move, Mr Albanese took to X, formerly Twitter, with a photo of himself and some university students.

“We’re wiping 3 billion in student debt, for more than 3 million Australians,” the PM wrote.

But the post backfired after becoming filled with replies criticising the PM’s move as a waste of taxpayer money.

“Who’s picking up the bill Albo?” wrote one incensed commenter.

Another quipped: “Debt doesn’t get ‘wiped’, you just transferred it to the taxpayer, without asking. If those kids knew that their future kids would be paying for it, they wouldn’t be smiling.”

A common theme among many repliers were accusations of the Prime Minister trying to “buy votes”.

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“Buying votes sad,” one replier wrote.

Another jibed: “You mean we the taxpayers will be footing the $3 billion bill so you can buy student votes. Even that won’t help you. You will be a one term PM”.

“Please resign. You are well past your used by date.”

Alongside this backlash, one incensed commenter described the move as: “Helicopter money to buy votes”.

The outrage directed at Mr Albanese comes after the Australia Tax Office confirmed it still indexed student debt at 4.7 per cent on June 1 rather than four per cent despite the flagged wiping of student debt.

Following the ATO’s confirmation, Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson hit out at Education Minister Jason Clare who originally announced the change of indexation rate.

Ms Henderson lashed out at the Labor government after student debt was not indexed at a lower rate. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

“In the face of Labor’s high inflation which is fuelling escalating student debt, Jason Clare’s failure to act with urgency means there is no relief in sight for three million Australians with a HELP loan,” Senator Henderson said.

“Why has the minister failed to bring forward legislation in time to enact these changes to HELP indexation? When will the promised reductions in student debt be delivered?

“Under Labor, prior to these changes, student debt had increased by nearly 16 per cent or an extra $4,000 on the average loan of $26,500.

“This is straight incompetence from Jason Clare who has been sitting on the recommended changes to HELP indexation since last December.”

The total outstanding debt owed by borrowers of higher education loan programs totalled more than $78 billion as of 2023.

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