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Tuesday, 28 October 2014
Page: 12239


Mr WATTS (Gellibrand) (13:54): We have heard a lot of spin and slogans from the government about their broken promise on university fee deregulation. We have heard the Minister for Education claim that 'students will always be the winners' from $100,000 degrees and increased debt costs! The education minister can spin as much he likes, but it is the stories from people in our community that will cut through with the Australian public, stories like that of Tizita, from my electorate.

Tizita is a talented first-generation Ethiopian-Australian student who lives in Footscray in my electorate. She studied hard through her undergraduate degree and has now received a Bachelor of Social Sciences from La Trobe University, winning many prizes along the way. But now, with these changes to university degrees, she is concerned about whether undertaking further study will be possible for her. She has told me:

University cuts will definitely make higher education inaccessible from me and others in similar positions.

The debate in this place about these higher education changes are already having an impact on the way that Tizita plans her future.

The Minister for Education has had almost every position imaginable on the future of higher education. Before the election, he committed to maintaining existing university funding arrangements. After the election, he maintained that he had promised before the election not to increase university fees. In the federal budget, he massively cut university funding and introduced plans to massively hike student fees. Then he claimed that this was okay because the Liberal Party did not actually have a higher education policy before the last election! The education minister needs to gather up the pieces of his shattered credibility and do one last policy backflip. He needs to introduce the policy that the Australian public want and abandon these unfair changes to our university sector.