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Wednesday, 3 December 2003
Page: 23698


Mr RANDALL (9:43 AM) —On Monday, the member for Hasluck, Sharryn Jackson, spent 10 minutes of a convoluted diatribe questioning the government's figures in terms of its $2.4 billion funding of the higher education package and saying that it would not deliver 31½ thousand university places over the next five years. She also suggested that students in the eastern suburbs of Perth are missing out on university places because there is no university there. I do not know whether she suggested that a new university should be built there, but the fact is that from her electorate office in Maddington it is only 20 minutes to Curtin University of Technology. I do not think her argument is very strong in that regard. As for the federal government's higher education package, the minister announced at question time yesterday that he would provide an extra $200 million, which would bring about an extra 1,400 places over five years and would deliver 33,000 university places to students around Australia. We are talking about more places rather than fewer places, so on that count Ms Jackson is wrong.

She also suggested that there is less funding for students with disabilities. There are going to be 7,500 scholarships for students from low-income families and from rural areas. Those scholarships will be valued at $16,000 each. Students with disabilities will be assisted with three times the amount of money that they currently receive. This package will deliver approximately 25,000 fully funded places, replacing the marginally funded places, and over 9,000 new fully funded places in areas where there is a demonstrated shortage—in medicine, nursing and teaching. In fact, the deal with the universities is that they will not be allowed to raise HECS on nursing and teaching. That is the deal being struck now to get the legislation through the Senate.

I note that the Labor Party intends to reduce the diesel fuel rebate by half a billion dollars, which will send many mining companies in my state of Western Australia into turmoil. Ms Jackson asserts that university places will be created out of this funding. That is actually a job-destroying initiative by Labor to fund its package. The people of Hasluck will have an opportunity to vote for Stuart Henry, who is the Liberal candidate and the former CEO of a skills training centre, compared to a former union representative in Sharryn Jackson. Come on down, Stuart Henry. You can do more about jobs and training places for the people of Hasluck than Ms Jackson can. (Time expired)