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Tuesday, 12 September 2017
Page: 10064


Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (15:47): Well, here we go again. We have the Labor Party coming in again claiming there are cuts. They normally put the word 'cruel' in front of them and talk about these so-called cruel cuts' that the coalition are making. We saw it during the end of the last session, where they talked about our alleged cuts to public schools. And I remember the member for Sydney standing at the dispatch box ranting and raving how they were going to pursue us everyday and tell the public about how we're making these cruel cuts to schools. And they have even threatened us with the bunting; that's right, they threatened the bunting in the election campaign. 'Not the bunting,' we said. But they threatened us with the bunting.

What have we heard since then from the Labor Party on schools? What have we heard? Not a beep. And why have we not heard a beep? Because their claim of cuts was completely debunked by the facts. As we know, truth is not something that we associate with those that sit on that side of the chamber. Now let's just have a look at the numbers here for higher education. Labor claim they're cut. The first thing I did was say, 'Let's look at the numbers and let's see where these cuts are.' Labor left office in 2013. We had $14.9 million in spending on higher education. In 2014, the first view of the coalition government, we increased it to $15.3 billion. No cuts there. In 2015, did the coalition make cuts? No, up it went again. It was $16 billion in 2015. So what about 2016? Was there a cut there?

No, there was $16.5 billion in 2016.    Perhaps there was a cut this year? If you listened or if anyone is listening in the parliament, you would think that we cut funding this year. What do we have, finally, with the numbers for this year? In 2017, we have $17.2 billion. In fact, the truth is that, this year, the coalition government is spending 15 per cent more than the last year of the Labor government. That's right. We are spending 15 per cent more than the Labor government were in their last year of government. They come in here and embarrass themselves by talking about cuts. What an embarrassment! They talk about cuts when the numbers show they are clearly increasing. Truth, like mathematics, is not something that is strong on the Labor side.

What about going forward? Perhaps there are some cuts going forward. Let's look at the numbers going forward? Remember, this year we are at $17.2 billion, 15 per cent more than in Labor's last year in office. For 2018, the coalition has budgeted for yet another increase to $18.6 billion. Up it goes again under the coalition government. In 2019, again, we've budgeted for an increase to $19.2 billion. And in 2020, yet again, there is an increase under the coalition to $20.2 billion.

So, this story that we hear about cuts over and over from Labor members of parliament is simply untrue. I could use another word that's unparliamentary. Perhaps you have to show intent for that other word, but I don't think the Labor Party actually do their homework. I don't think they actually look at the numbers. I think they just get their talking points from head office and mumble through their talking points: 'They're cutting, they're cutting and they're cutting.' They repeat like parrots. If they looked at the numbers and facts, they would see there's a clear increase under this coalition government.

We are doing the right thing by higher education. Changes need to be made because we have to make the system sustainable going forward. Yes, the end result is no student in this nation that wants to back themselves and get a higher education has to put one cent out of their pocket. The government will back them up-front for all their cost. On average, the government will pay 54 per cent of their cost of education. That is a pretty good deal. We are spending more money. There are no cuts. There is record funding going into higher education, and we're giving every student the opportunity to get into university if they want to back themselves without one cent coming out of their pocket. (Time expired)