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Tuesday, 28 October 2014
Page: 12237


Mr HAYES (FowlerChief Opposition Whip) (13:45): A couple of weeks ago I attended the University of Technology, Sydney graduation ceremony. I went there to see a young Vietnamese girl graduate with first-class honours in law and a high distinction in business studies. She is the daughter of refugees, both mother and father. I have seen how hard Tania has worked throughout her career, but what is important is that this young woman is going to go on and make a great difference in our country. Her father is a bus driver. He worked three jobs to get her through school and support her at university. We will be the beneficiaries of that into the future.

We now have a government who wants to shackle students with higher debt, restrict entry into universities and allow universities the freedom to charge higher fees. It is going to make it very much more difficult for people like Tania, coming from a working-class suburb, to be able to go to a first-class university and compete with others. We have got to get serious. This is not just about the people at university; this is also about investing in our country. We want the brightest and smartest brains there; we do not want just people coming from rich and privileged backgrounds attending our universities. This has got to be a balanced discussion and, particularly from those of us who benefited from the free education emanating from the Whitlam legacy, I think it is very poor of those opposite to turn their backs on higher education.