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Monday, 22 September 2014
Page: 9901

Mr HUTCHINSON (Lyons) (10:36): I was very pleased to hear that the member for Kingston was recently in Tasmania. Unfortunately, at the forum she attended when she was down there they could not find one of their own Tasmanian senators to actually represent and speak on behalf of the very important reforms the government is making with respect to higher education. But the member for Kingston is not the only member who has ventured down to Tasmania in more recent times. We had the member for Adelaide in my electorate only a month ago. For the first time in years and years and years, Lyons is back on the radar of the Labor Party. They took it for granted for 20 years. So I am very pleased. I welcome members of the Labor Party and the shadow ministry who want to come down to Tasmania and spruik what it is. We also had the member for Ballarat in my electorate, and the Leader of the Opposition more recently in Braddon. It is great to see the Labor Party, after ignoring my state for so long, and after the damage done with the Labor Party and the Greens in power both in Tasmania and in Canberra. We are slowly starting to rebuild. You are most welcome to come down any time and have a look at the good work being done by the new Tasmanian government.

All complaint and no solution: if it was so good, it would have been funded. In 2013-14, the budget was brought down not by the Liberal Party but by the Labor Party—an absolute disgrace. Getting children into work and education should be and always is a priority of government, and it should also be a priority of the community. They need to have the best opportunities to secure a job, to go onto higher education. But there is not one simple fix, and to suggest so is quite simply misleading.

The Abbott coalition government is providing more opportunities for young Australians to earn and/or learn, and it is my true belief that this starts with the family. It is about the culture that is embedded within the family unit. It is about the example that mums and dads set for their children. Yes, of course schools have a role to play. The community mentors have a role to play. And the conversations and the culture need to be there—not in year nine or year 10, but they need to begin in year five or year six, and this needs to be embedded into the curriculum. I will give the example in my own electorate of the Glenora District High School. The principal, Phillip Wells, is a fine educator and takes great pride in getting, for the first time ever in a regional or rural school, all of last year's year 10 students to go on to year 11. Some of you may not realise, but in Tasmania, unfortunately, we do not have year 11 and year 12 in the high schools. That is being changed by the current state government, and they have introduced a voluntary system whereby schools can apply to become part of a program to reintroduce year 11 and year 12.

Phillip Wells, the principal at Glenora district school, got all of the students from year 10 to go on to college last year, and three-quarters of the way through 2014 they are still there. Full marks to him, because this was a program that started at the district school in year 5 and year 6. He is working to encourage these kids to understand the opportunities that are there. Some of these kids come from very poor backgrounds, very low SES backgrounds. With no disrespect to mum and dad, they just do not know the opportunities that are there in the big wide world and the opportunities that a good education can give to those children. As many would be aware, there are a number of schools in my electorate—Cressy district school, New Norfolk High School, Campbell Town district school and Sorell High School—that participate in the Beacon Foundation, which does wonderful work.

The things that we are doing as a government include the trade support loans that are about encouraging students to complete their apprenticeship: "Complete your apprenticeship and we'll knock 20 per cent off the loan that you take out." Whether it be $5,000, for example, for a utility vehicle or accommodation assistance, it is about encouraging those students to complete their education.

As a former speaker mentioned, in relation to the higher education reforms, it is about 80,000 more young Australians from low SES backgrounds having an opportunity to go on to higher education, having an opportunity to do sub-bachelor and bachelor and diploma courses at university. That is truly a reform.