I actually think that the HECS/HELP system is great.
Firstly, it makes education just as accessible as offering it free at the point of delivery does. No one is excluded from education on grounds of not being able to afford fees. No one is put under undue financial strain by repayment of their loan.
Secondly, it's a fairer system than funding tertiary education entirely from the public purse. Those accessing tertiary education generally come from advantaged backgrounds and they will personally benefit from their education by way of higher incomes after graduation. I'm not into the generally less advantaged, lower-earning taxpayer funding that.
I consider myself lucky because in the years before I studied, my qualification had fees in the thousands per semester, payable up front. I was not in a position to come up with that money. In the years after, fees jumped to five figures, payble via a HELP loan. I would still have completed it under that scenario, but it sure is nice not having that debt.
I think we're the lucky country. I can't think of too many other societies where I could have got where I am starting where I did. I do think it's a very delicate balance to retain the social/economic/political characteristics that facilitate opportunity, and I hope we haven't turned around and started travelling backwards.