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Tuesday, 28 October 2014
Page: 12234

Mr GILES (Scullin) (13:35): I am pleased to join my colleagues, the member for Bendigo and the member for Lalor, in condemning the Abbott government's unfair changes to universities and in voicing the concerns of so many in the Scullin electorate about what this means for our community and, indeed, our society. Let me be clear: Labor will not support a system of higher fees, larger student debt, reduced access and greater inequality. We will never tell Australians that the quality of their higher education depends on their capacity to pay.

This goes to the heart of the society we want for ourselves and our children. I am proud that Australia today is a place where access to university is open to all and determined by merit. I am angry this is presently under threat by the actions of this government. Labor's reforms from Whitlam, to Keating, to Gillard and Rudd, realised this vision of access and equity and made clear that what is good for equity is also good for the economy. We need to win the high-skill jobs of the future. We can do this by having the best educated workers now and into the future.

Only Labor understands the transformative capacity of education. Only Labor will protect the legacy of equity and access to higher education for all. Only Labor is listening to the concerns of the people of the Scullin electorate on this most vital issue of our future prospects.