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Wednesday, 17 March 2010
Page: 2047

Senator MASON (11:31 AM) —I first of all thank Senator Fielding for his strong advocacy for rural students during this long debate. I would like to remind both Senator Fielding and, indeed, the Senate that if it were not for these negotiations rural students would be worse off. The coalition has secured over the next decade or so hundreds of millions of dollars to assist rural students go to university. That is a fact. The coalition did that. If the coalition had not done it, the money would not be there. Let us put that on the table fair and square. The coalition did that through negotiations with the government. We are proud of it and we make no apologies for it. We cannot support these amendments. We will be moving our own amendments which have a similar thrust very shortly. I should also note this: if the coalition are elected later this year, we will review student support, particularly in relation to rural students. This may indeed, Senator Fielding, as you have flagged in this amendment, be a policy we can look at. But at the moment certainly the opposition will not be supporting these amendments.