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Monday, 16 June 2003
Page: 16392

Mr CREAN (2:38 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I ask him whether he is aware of statements by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Western Sydney that her university will lose $300,000 under the government's inequitable university changes. Is the Prime Minister aware that two-thirds of the students at the University of Western Sydney—around 18,000 Australians—are the first-time members of their families to have attended and studied at a university? Prime Minister, how will universities such the University of Western Sydney, whose students and their families cannot afford the $100,000 full fee, make up this funding shortfall that you have given them?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —As to the funding shortfall, I will check the claim made by the Leader of the Opposition—

Mr HOWARD —You sometimes verbal people, including some on your own side.

The SPEAKER —The Prime Minister will address his remarks through the chair.

Mr HOWARD —Let me say to the Leader of the Opposition that the claim implicit in his question—that, in some way, the number of HECS funded places will be fewer under our policy—is wrong. There will be more. The claim implicit in your question that students will have to pay $100,000 when they become entitled to a HECS place is wrong. The current situation is that 98 per cent of students who attend Australian universities are the beneficiaries of HECS funded places. There will be more HECS funded places under our scheme. We will give the same treatment, in relation to full fee paying students, to Australian citizens as we have for years to foreign citizens. I think that is fair, and I am amazed that the Australian Labor Party is opposed to it.