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Thursday, 9 December 2004
Page: 54

Senator BUCKLAND (1:04 PM) —I was not going to speak on the Higher Education Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 3) 2004, but I see that there is the opportunity to do that. We are starting to focus on higher education in Australia, generally because of skills shortages developing in our country. It is a change in focus. Labor has, for a long time, campaigned to draw to the government's attention its lack of diligence in providing adequately for higher education. It needs to put its eye on what is really happening there. Young people from country areas of Australia are disadvantaged when it comes to going any further than high school. They are disadvantaged because to do their study they need to move away to capital cities or to major centres not closely aligned to where they live. Once those young people leave their homes, they can no longer come back to where they live, because jobs are not available following their study.

Since they have been in office the government have been lacking in the attention they have paid to looking after those people in the industry, such as teachers, care people and support staff. They have not provided funding for those people to be able to properly educate our children and to properly develop their skills so that we can become the smart country that we believe we should be. My colleague Senator McLucas has indicated that she would like to speak in the debate, so I will let her do so.