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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Page: 12800

Asia: Education

Mrs D'ATH (Petrie) (14:05): My question is to the Prime Minister. How is the government strengthening our education links with Asia by helping Australian students to study in the region?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:05): I thank the member for Petrie for her question. What it serves to highlight is the fact that the difference in Australian politics can now be put down to a very simple point. On this side of the parliament we have a plan for the nation's future. On that side of the parliament there is no plan, just relentless negativity—as we have seen today with the opening question of the Leader of the Opposition. Yesterday, of course, we saw them start with muck. The day before we saw them start with their carbon tax campaign, which even backbenchers of the Leader of the Opposition's own team fear has run out of puff. On this side of the parliament, rather than being mired in that kind of negativity, we have delivered a plan for the nation's future and we are getting on with the job of shaping that and delivering that, because that is what matters for the future of Australians, for their jobs, for their skills and for their capacities, to make sure that they can seize individually the opportunities that will come in this century of change and growth.

The member for Petrie has rightly asked me about this plan's focus on education. If you do not focus on education then you cannot focus on the nation's future. If you do not have a comprehensive approach to education then you are denying the nation the future it should have. So our plan for the nation's future focuses centrally on education. It focuses on deepening and enhancing our education links with the region of the world we live in; the growing region of the world. The new Asia-bound grants will offer between $2,000 and $5,000 for students undertaking short or semester-length study exchanges and $1,000 grants for preparatory Asian language study. In addition, we will be simplifying and broadening eligibility for increased student loans for those students seeking to study in the region.

All up, this will support more than 10,000 young Australians to live and study in Asia and build what will be a lifetime set of choices about careers with opportunities for the rest of their lives. This comes with our focus on Asian languages, and it comes with everything we have done and said in relation to scholarship. It comes with our plan to build deeper business engagement. It comes with a comprehensive plan for the nation's future. I want our nation to be a winner in this century of change. That is why we have delivered the plan for the nation's future with education at its heart.