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Tuesday, 28 October 2014
Page: 12256

Higher Education


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:52): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to the Prime Minister's plans to Americanise our universities. Given that the Prime Minister is already saddling Australian students with a debt sentence, will the Prime Minister at least rule out applying the GST to university fees or does the conversation that he has asked Australia to have—

The SPEAKER: The member for Lyons!

Mr SHORTEN: Can I start again, Madam Speaker?

The SPEAKER: No. We have already got half the question on the matter of public importance.

Mr SHORTEN: Will the Prime Minister rule out applying the GST to university fees—

Government members interjecting

The SPEAKER: There will be silence on my right! The member for Deakin.

Mr SHORTEN: Madam Speaker, if I can continue. The noise was just ridiculous.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat.

Mr Pyne: We're on the skids, Bill.

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the House will desist. The Leader of the Opposition, to complain about the noise of the House when the noise coming from behind him is a cacophony is somewhat being precious. I could not hear the question, except I could hear what is to be the matter of public importance. However, he may repeat the question.

Mr Nikolic: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The member for Rankin, while you were speaking, interjected in a way that I think he should withdraw. He reflected on the chair.

The SPEAKER: In that case, he will withdraw.

Dr Chalmers: I withdraw.

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition.

Mr SHORTEN: My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to the Prime Minister's plans to Americanise our universities. Given that the Prime Minister is already saddling Australian students with a debt sentence, will he rule out applying the GST to university fees or does the conversation he has asked Australia to have include applying the GST to university fees?
















Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:55): The Leader of the Opposition is claiming, first, that I want to Americanise higher education and, second, that I want to introduce a GST. As we know, the only political party which has recently modelled an increase in the GST is the Labor Party. We know that. And the only political party which has lionised American higher education is the Labor Party, not just the Labor Party but the Leader of the Opposition himself and not in the time of Bob Hawke but just this year. I am truly amazed that the Leader of the Opposition should ask this question. He must be suffering from short-term memory loss, because in July of this year, addressing the New York Academy of Sciences, the Leader of the Opposition said, 'In supporting start-ups, nurturing creativity and rewarding ingenuity, America shows us the way.' America shows us the way. So not only has he been caught out—

Mr Morrison interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Minister for Immigration will desist.

Mr ABBOTT: misleading the parliament when it comes to a GST, but now he is caught out misleading the parliament when it comes to who wants to Americanise our institutions. The problem is that this Leader of the Opposition does not know where he stands or what he believes in.