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Wednesday, 13 September 2017
Page: 10317

Ms PLIBERSEK (SydneyDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (18:49): Labor supports this amendment to legislate for a national regional higher education strategy. We know that the cuts in this bill would disproportionately impact regional universities that rely on CGS funding more than their city counterparts. Every Australian, no matter where they live, deserves to get a great education. From early childhood education, through schooling, TAFE and to university, we know that kids who are growing up in regional areas are often missing out. We've seen $17 billion of cuts to schools, more than $2.8 billion of cuts to vocational education and training and an extra $600 million cut in this year's budget. We've seen a loss of about 148,000 apprenticeships and traineeships. This bill will cut almost $4 billion from universities; and that's before you get to the cuts from the Education Investments Fund, which is close to another $4 billion, so it is almost $8 billion in cuts in total from universities. That will have a lasting effect on regional universities, whether they're in Newcastle or Launceston. Plans will be delayed or cancelled because the universities won't have the ability to pay for them.

It is absolutely time that those in this government, particularly those from the National Party, who say they stand up for regional education, actually do it. Labor has a very strong record of supporting regional students. We made landmark changes to student income support when we were last in government. We opened the doors to universities through the demand driven system and through HEPPP. Under Labor, we saw a 30 per cent increase in regional students in our universities. All of this is at risk because of the cuts that the government is persisting with. We are absolutely delighted to support the member for Indi and the other crossbenchers in the development of a regional higher education strategy.

The SPEAKER: The question is that the amendments be agreed to.