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Tuesday, 3 June 2003
Page: 15745

Ms GEORGE (2:30 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Education, Science and Training. Why do the government's unfair university changes exclude the University of Wollongong from accessing additional funds as a regional campus when similar campuses like Deakin University of Geelong will receive additional funding?

Dr NELSON (Minister for Education, Science and Training) —I thank the member for Throsby for her question and for recognising that the government has developed over the course of the last year a comprehensive reform program for Australian higher education which is intended to ensure that Australia's economic and social development is on a sound footing for the next 25 years and beyond. I also thank the member for Throsby for pointing out that one of the key initiatives in this package is to make $122.6 million available over four years for regional universities. In fact, there are 31 universities in 54 campuses that will benefit from additional loading in recognition of the need toprovide educational services in remote and regional parts of Australia.

What the member for Throsby and others on the other side need to do is, firstly, to acquaint themselves with the serious issues that face our higher education; secondly, to support the $1.5 billion additional public investment that this government is proposing to put in over the next four years; and, thirdly, to support the significant initiatives which put more resources into the teaching of teachers and nurses: 31,500 extra HECS places over the first five years alone and $183 million to bring students from the periphery to the centre of the university experience with quality teaching and learning. In relation to a whole variety of initiatives in this package, if the member for Throsby were serious, for a start, she would be listening and, secondly, she would be most welcome to come along and discuss with me any of the concerns that she has about this.

The SPEAKER —Before I recognise the member for Throsby, I was uncertain as to whether or not the minister had concluded his answer. Has the minister concluded his answer?

Dr Nelson —Yes.

Ms George —Mr Speaker, on a point of order: standing order 145 requires—

The SPEAKER —The member for Throsby will resume her seat. As successive speakers have pointed out for longer than I can remember, there is only one standing order covering answers—that is, that the answer be relevant. The minister was relevant.

Ms Macklin —He didn't mention Wollongong.

The SPEAKER —As the member for Jagajaga is well aware, and she is welcome to peruse the Hansard, the minister's answer was entirely consistent with answers given by ministers over many years.