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Wednesday, 17 March 2010
Page: 2048

Senator FIELDING (Leader of the Family First Party) (11:32 AM) —It is worth not letting this go too quickly. It is interesting that the Rudd government, through the minister, can say the cost is too high. What was the cost of that pink batts fiasco? What was the cost to the Australian taxpayers of that fiasco? The government are quite happy to turn a blind eye to that, but when it comes to our kids’ future they do not want to invest in them at all. They do not want to invest in our kids’ future, but they are quite happy to waste money the way that they have. Then they come in here to say they want to penny pinch with our kids. This is an investment in our future. This is an investment in our kids, the next generation coming through. Rural and regional areas need doctors and dentists and accountants. They come from rural and regional areas. Fewer people coming from there that go to university means fewer people going back to rural and regional areas. It is a fact. Here we are not able to support making sure that regional areas—places like, and I am sure Senator Ronaldson will be interested in this, Ballarat, Bendigo, Sale, Shepparton, Traralgon, Wangaratta, Warrnambool, Wodonga and other regional areas of Australia—all miss out on youth allowance. It is very hard to allow that to happen. Surely we should be looking after these people. Surely there should be more done.

They were all done and all silent, even the National Party, on this issue about an amendment for regional kids. The National Party should be standing up for regional areas. They have sold out again. The media release from Christopher Pyne yesterday said that last year the coalition sought three changes. They did that with us. It was Family First votes that forced the government to rethink this as well. And here they are saying, ‘We wanted to get a pathway to exist for regional kids.’ The media release yesterday said that the coalition had succeeded in ensuring a pathway for rural, remote and very remote students. There is nothing about regional areas—nothing at all. You have backed down and sold out regional Australia. You cannot explain it. Even one of your coalition senators came in, and they cannot explain why this area is supported and that area is not. This is a way of including regional areas in some way. Surely it should get supported.