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Tuesday, 28 October 2014
Page: 12233


Ms RYAN (LalorOpposition Whip) (13:32): I rise to report to the House the opposition I am finding among the local community of Lalor to this government's planned, cruel changes to higher education. The changes will see 20 per cent cuts to higher education, increased fees for students of up to $100,000 and increased interest rates on that debt. It will be a 'debt sentence' that may lock people out of buying a home for years, as we see in America.

Recently I met with a young single mother in my electorate. She is studying full-time and raising two boys. She is confused by what she sees as this government's relentless, compounding attack on her future and her children's futures. As she said, she is trying to get off the welfare cycle by earning a qualification—a degree in social work. Her intentions were clear—she was to complete her degree, find employment and make a further contribution, beyond parenting, to our society. She wants the dignity of work and to raise her children free of government support. But she is confronted again and again with unforeseen obstacles: the cutting of the JET program; the tax on family payments; the axing of the schoolkids bonus; and these proposed changes to the higher education sector. She was prepared for reasonable costs and debt, but these extreme changes have her contemplating a very different future.

To be clear, this is not a return to the Commonwealth scholarships which keep being mentioned. These scholarships will not be funded by the Commonwealth. My question to the Prime Minister is simple: why is some debt bad, but student debt good?