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Tuesday, 17 November 2009
Page: 8020

Senator WILLIAMS (4:41 PM) —The problem for people in rural and regional Australia is the assets test. Minister Carr is probably not aware that, if you have, in an area of rather reliable rainfall—whether it be the mid-north of South Australia or around Inverell, where I live—1,000 acres, a bit of machinery, a tractor and perhaps a header and you do a bit of contracting, that could be $2.286 million. Even if you are one of the very few fortunate farmers who are debt free, how do you send your children to tertiary education?

Senator Hanson-Young —Sell the paddock!

Senator WILLIAMS —Yes—perhaps sell the tractor or mortgage the farm! This is the reason, Minister Carr, that 33 per cent of people who complete year 12 in regional areas of Australia go on to tertiary education while in the cities the figure is 55 per cent. How do we get professionals in rural and regional areas—doctors, dentists and nurses, who provide those vital services—when you are preventing those students from going to university? This is budgeted, as Senator Mason has pointed out, and it is something that would give those people who want a tertiary education a fair go. You, Minister Carr, would probably expect them to sell a paddock of the farm.