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Wednesday, 15 October 2003
Page: 21548

Ms MACKLIN (7:23 PM) —by leave—I move amendments Nos (3) and (5) together:

(3) Clause 36-35, page 50 (line 21) to page 51 (line 13), omit the clause, substitute:

36-35 Percentage of Commonwealth supported places to be provided by Table A providers

(1) A *Table A provider must ensure that, in any year, the *number of Commonwealth supported places provided by the provider accounts for 100% of the total number of places that the provider provides in each undergraduate *course of study.

(2) For the purposes of calculating the proportion of Commonwealth supported places in subsection (1), international students and students who are not Commonwealth supported students and were enrolled before 2004 are to be disregarded.

(3) For the purpose of applying subsection (1) in relation to a *course of study, disregard any enrolment in *work experience in industry or in an *employer reserved place in that course.

(5) Clause 104-1, page 94 (line 4) to page 95 (line 9), omit the clause, substitute:

104-1 Entitlement to FEE-HELP assistance

(1) A student is entitled to *FEE-HELP assistance for a unit of study if:

(a) the student is enrolled in a post-grad-uate course of study; and

(b) the student meets the citizenship or residency require-ments under section 104-5; and

(c) the stud-ent's *FEE-HELP bal-ance is greater than zero; and

(d) the *census date for the unit is on or after 1 January 2005; and

(e) the student is not a *Common-wealth supported stu-dent in relation to the unit; and

(f) the unit meets the course re-quirements under section 104-10; and

(g) the unit:

(i) is, or is to be, under-taken as part of a *course of study; or

(ii) is a unit access to which was provided by *Open Learning Australia; or

(iii) is part of a *bridging course for overseas--trained professionals; and

(h) the student:

(i) enrolled in the unit on or before the census date for the unit; and

(ii)at the end of the census date, remained so en-rolled; and

(i) the student *meets the tax file number requirements (see section 187-1); and

(j) the student has, on or before the census date, completed and signed a *request for Com-monwealth assistance in relation to the unit, or in relation to the course of study of which the unit forms a part; and

(k) the student has not been precluded from receipt of the FEE-HELP assistance because of section 107-15.

The purpose of these amendments is to abolish full fee paying places for Australian undergraduates. This is once again a very significant amendment for the Australian Labor Party, because we do not believe people should be able to jump the queue to get a place at university. In Labor's policy Aim Higher, which is our $2.34 billion higher education package, we committed ourselves to abolishing full fee paying places for Australian undergraduates. Our policy will allow existing full fee paying students to complete their courses, but the first amendment would make sure that there are no more enrolments in full fee paying places for Australian undergraduates from 2004. The second amendment, No. (5), limits the FEE-HELP loans, which the government is introducing, to postgraduate students. If this amendment is successful there will be no full fee paying undergraduates.

At this point I want to reiterate Labor's commitment to create 20,000 additional new full- and part-time commencing undergraduate places. By 2008 Labor will be creating 20,000 additional full- and part-time places in our universities each year. The purpose of that commitment is to ensure that students in our country who are qualified to go to university will get a place. These 20,000 additional places remove the need for full fee paying places. There is no need for additional full fee paying places if we make sure that there are enough HECS places in our universities.

We know that there are a lot of qualified students who miss out at the moment. Labor is the only party in this country that intends to address that problem. The only way that the government intends to meet unmet demand in our universities is by allowing students to pay more and more and more. I might at this point remind the minister again of another commitment that was given by the Prime Minister before the last election—a bit like the one that he is seeking to break through this legislation in relation to deregulation of HECS. On 14 October 1999, the Prime Minister said, `There will be no $100,000 university fees under this government.' He did not say a few, or 10 per cent or 50 per cent—`none' was the commitment given by the Prime Minister before the election.

Of course, we know that is untrue—universities all around Australia are charging not just $100,000 for a university degree. If you want to do veterinary science at the University of Queensland, it will cost you over $140,000. We know that the University of Melbourne intend to charge $150,000 for a medical degree. That is the reality of what this government intends to do if these amendments are not successful. I call on the government to stick with the Prime Minister's promise made before the last election—that there would not be any full fee paying $100,000 degrees in this country.

If the government proceeds with the legislation as it is, it is going to mean, as it does now, that students who have lower marks but lots of money are going to be able to buy a place at a university ahead of students with better marks. In our view, this is fundamentally offensive to the Australian notion of a fair go. It is absolutely opposed to the notion of a fair go. Labor's amendments to this unfair practice that the government already has in place will end full fee paying places for Australian undergraduates. I look forward to the government recognising the Prime Minister's commitment and supporting the amendments. (Time expired)