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Thursday, 9 December 2004
Page: 25


Senator KEMP (Minister for the Arts and Sport) (11:08 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

Higher Education Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 3) 2004

I am pleased to be able to announce to honourable Senators the final set of higher education legislation amendments for 2004.

This Bill makes two important funding adjustments. It will amend the maximum funding amounts under the Commonwealth Grant Scheme for 2005 and 2006 to continue to provide places for Commonwealth supported students in the area of radiation oncology at the University of Newcastle and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. This funding was previously made available by the Department of Health and Ageing and will now be provided by my portfolio.

The Bill also updates the annual appropriation under the Australian Research Council Act 2001, to reflect revised forward estimates.

As part of the implementation and consultation process for the new higher education reforms this Bill is a final opportunity to make some technical enhancements to the primary legislation and respond appropriately to issues raised by the sector before the end of 2004.

As part of the Australian Government's ongoing consultation with the higher education sector, this bill will allow Higher Education Providers to continue to operate their summer schools as they do now. This is an important measure which allows students to fast-track their course or make up for a failed unit of study.

The Bill also makes amendments to the Higher Education Support Act 2003 to enhance the implementation of some of the higher education reforms. A number of these amendments are of particular benefit to students.

The Bill will extend access to assistance under the OS-HELP scheme. OS-HELP is an important new programme that will offer students loans of up to $5,000 per six month study period to finance overseas study. The Bill will extend eligibility for this programme to include study undertaken by students at an overseas campus of an Australian higher education provider. This will assist students undertake overseas study while also maintaining the continuity of their studies at their chosen institution. The Bill will also extend access to the programme to eligible Commonwealth supported students at all Australian higher education providers.

The Bill will also allow students more time to submit their requests for Commonwealth assistance by providing that such requests are not required until the census date.

Full details of the measures in the Bill are contained in the explanatory memorandum circulated to Senators.

I commend the Bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator Buckland) adjourned.

Ordered that the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for a later hour.