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Monday, 1 September 2014
Page: 9160

Higher Education


Mr HAWKE (Mitchell) (14:52): My question is to the Minister for Education and it regards the vital work the minister is doing in higher education. Will the minister outline to the House how the government's reforms to higher education will benefit students and how they will contribute to a better university system?

Dr Chalmers interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Rankin is warned!

Mr HAWKE: Are there any alternative proposals, Minister?




Mr PYNE (SturtLeader of the House and Minister for Education) (14:53): I thank the member for Mitchell for his question. I can tell him that the biggest winners from the government's higher education reforms will be the university students, especially first-generation university goers and students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: There will be silence on my left.

Mr PYNE: My, how they get excited—

Mr Perrett interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Moreton is warned!

Mr PYNE: Why will those students be big winners?

The SPEAKER: The member for Moreton can leave under 94(a).

The member for Moreton then left the chamber.

Mr PYNE: They will be winners in four ways: because of the expansion of the Commonwealth grants scheme to non-university higher education providers; because—

Mr Watts interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Gellibrand can also remove himself under 94(a).

The member for Gellibrand then left the chamber.

Mr PYNE: of the expansion of the demand-driven system to diplomas and associate diplomas—

Mr Fitzgibbon interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Hunter can join him if he wishes.

Mr PYNE: Both of those measures will benefit lower SES students and first-generation university goers to the tune of 80,000 more students a year by 2018. They will also benefit by the introduction of the largest Commonwealth scholarship fund in Australia's history and they will benefit by more revenue for universities, leading to more research and better quality teaching. In return, the government is asking, on behalf of the taxpayers, that students contribute 50 per cent of the cost of their education—when they are currently contributing 40 per cent. So we are asking for a 50-50 split—that is, 50 per cent from the taxpayer and 50 per cent from students, when currently it is 60-40 in favour of the student.

Labor's proposal, on the other hand, is more of the same—more of the inevitable decline. Plus, when they were in government, they proposed savings to the university sector of $6.6 billion. Labor proposed cuts $6.6 billion with no capacity for extra revenue to be raised by the university system.

Ms Butler interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Griffith can remove herself under 94(a).

The member for Griffith then left the chamber.

Mr PYNE: Paul Kelly nailed this in The Australian on the weekend when he was quoting Mike Gallagher, the executive director of the Go8 universities, who said of the Labor Party:

It is outrageous that they have washed their hands of responsibility for the mess they created.

That Labor created. He also said:

Unless there is reform we will continue to drift, we will fall behind the emerging universities of Asia and we will fall out of touch with the vital global centres of knowledge.

There was a time when there were Labor figures who were strong enough and big enough to recognise the need for reform. Bob Hawke said:

You've got to get rid of the idea that there is or ever has been or ever could be free education.

Ms MacTiernan interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Perth will remove herself under 94(a).

The member for Perth then left the chamber.

Mr PYNE: He said:

The social democratic society is about equitable payment and, the beneficiaries, I believe, have an obligation to make a contribution towards the cost of it when they can.

Bob Hawke got it when Labor was a big party, not the small party that it is today.