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Monday, 30 March 1987
Page: 1438

Senator POWELL —My question is to the Minister for Education. I remind the Minister that the Tertiary Education Commission, in its September 1986 report by the Committee of Inquiry `Review of Efficiency and Effectiveness in Higher Education', said:

For the future, changes in the social composition of higher education will require continuing steady growth in the provision of higher education places . . . and maintenance of adequate levels of student financial support.

I ask the Minister: Since it is the Government's intention that its $250 tertiary fee will rise in line with the consumer price index-based education index can he say whether the Government will act to protect the living standards of students by ensuring that student allowances are also linked to the CPI?

Senator RYAN —I am pleased that Senator Powell has noted that it is the Government's intention to index the $250 administration charge in line with the education index because a lot of commentators on this matter seem to think that it is a new announcement and has suddenly been thought up whereas this intention was clearly stated from the outset-the time when the charge was introduced-and was provided for in the legislation. That has certainly been our intention. With regard to student allowances, we have a phase-in arrangement whereby we are seeking to bring all student allowances into line with the equivalent unemployment benefit for young people in the same age group. We are doing that successively. Next year, for example, the Austudy payment for 16- and 17-year olds will be the equivalent of the junior unemployment benefit, and I think the last series of allowances will be brought into alignment in 1989. It is also the announced intention of the Government, once the allowances and the benefits are properly aligned, that they will be indexed.