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QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
- Parl No.
- Question No.
Senator STOTT DESPOJA
- System Id
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- Start of Business
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
(Senator BOLKUS, Senator VANSTONE)
(Senator CHAPMAN, Senator ALSTON)
(Senator JACINTA COLLINS, Senator VANSTONE)
(Senator McGAURAN, Senator PARER)
(Senator CARR, Senator VANSTONE)
Small Business: Franchising Code Council
(Senator MURRAY, Senator PARER)
(Senator FORSHAW, Senator VANSTONE)
Apple and Pear Industries
(Senator HARRADINE, Senator PARER)
Labour Market Programs
(Senator MACKAY, Senator VANSTONE)
(Senator WOODLEY, Senator PARER)
(Senator SHERRY, Senator KEMP)
(Senator SANDY MACDONALD, Senator NEWMAN)
- Regional Development
- University Fees
- PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
- MID-YEAR ECONOMIC AND FISCAL OUTLOOK
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
- NOTICES OF MOTION
PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE INCENTIVES BILL 1997
HEALTH LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE INCENTIVES) BILL 1996
MEDICARE LEVY AMENDMENT BILL (No. 2) 1996
TAXATION LAWS AMENDMENT (PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE INCENTIVES) BILL 1997
- QUESTIONS ON NOTICE
Thursday, 27 February 1997
Senator STOTT DESPOJA(11.17 a.m.) —Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President, for giving me a little limelight. First of all, it is necessary to counter some of the comments that Senator Patterson has made. It is all very well to talk about research scholarships, but I wonder if the honourable senator realises that the purported maintenance of undergraduate load is coming at the expense of postgraduate positions. Postgraduate positions in this country are going to be reduced as a consequence of the budget measures. As for taking away an inequity—what a farce that is. This government have entrenched inequity. They have made the university system in this country even harder to access than it was during the period of Labor rule.
I am the first to point the finger at both sides in this debate and to acknowledge that they are equally culpable. I will tell you where the Australian Democrats were, not only when fees were introduced for overseas students but also when the higher education administration charge, the higher education contribution scheme, the increase above CPI to HECS payments in this country and the deregulation of the postgraduate sector were introduced—and the list goes on. We Democrats were in this chamber and not only did we speak against and oppose those moves but we voted against them. I acknowledge Senator Margetts's comment that the Greens have also voted against fees while they have been in this place. The ALP opposition are culpable. They began a process of user pays education, and the government has now entrenched that.
Senator Carr is right. Some of the most radical reforms to higher education ever to have been undertaken have been undertaken in the last few months since this government got into power. When in opposition, the coalition acknowledged that, whilst the legacy of the Labor government was certainly an increase in the number of undergraduate places, it was at the expense of funding for infrastructure and staffing and followed the introduction of fees and charges. In opposition, the coalition lamented the underfunding of the sector. They said they would do something about it and promised they would not cut operating grants. What have they done? They have sliced $1.8 billion from operating grants.
Senator Conroy —It wasn't a core promise.
Senator STOTT DESPOJA —If it is nothing else, it is—specifically—a broken election promise. The fees and charges this government has introduced are contemptible. This is a furphy and what we have heard from the Minister for Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs (Senator Vanstone) not only in this chamber today but in estimates last night and during the debate on the higher education so-called `reforms' is farcical, positively Orwellian doublespeak: the minister says it is choice. What choice is it for a battler—since the minister is so keen to use that phrase—to pay full cost fees of 110 grand for dentistry up front? That is no choice. Even the minister has been good enough to concede, on occasion, that that is no choice, that working class kids cannot pay 34 grand up front for a bachelor of arts degree or 110 grand for dentistry.
What a farce it is to call that `choice'. It is absolute doublespeak and I cannot wait to hear someone explain how that can be defended as a choice for people with no money or coming from a traditionally disadvantaged background, be they women, Aboriginal or Islander people, people from lower socioeconomic different backgrounds. This government has entrenched a system where it is not your brains but your bank balance that counts. Your ability to study is determined by your ability to pay. Senator Bolkus was quite right in this chamber today when he talked about the trading off of TER points for about $10,000 per point. That is what is happening. If the minister needs reminding of the decline in enrolment applications, it is all in front of her, available from her department.
Senator Patterson referred to opportunities for young people—what about mature age aspirants? That is where the sharpest decline in enrolment applications is. In every state around the country, the lowest number of applications for enrolments has come from mature age students. I am sorry Senator Tierney is not here because, with his experience in education, he should be the first to look at the impact of the deregulation of the postgraduate sector, what that has meant for traditionally disadvantaged groups and how those people cannot afford up-front fees and charges. There is no choice in that.
As for the West committee, I commend some of the comments by Professor Roderick West. However, I am sure they will be countered by some of the other carefully selected members of the committee. Someone explain to me how we are supposed to articulate a vision for the next 20 years in higher education in the four pages which is, I believe, the recommended limit or maximum number of pages for submissions. This government have a litany of broken promises to the higher education sector. They promised to maintain Austudy—they cut it. They promised to maintain operating grants—they cut them. They promised to strengthen regional and rural campuses and they are closing down. My final question to the minister today is: is she going to ensure Whyalla campus is protected? (Time expired)