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Monday, 3 December 2018
Page: 12354

Mr ALEXANDER (Bennelong) (16:43): I would like to offer my heartiest congratulations to Lucy Fang, a student from my electorate, who has come third in the My First Speech competition. This competition, run by the Speaker, asks students around the country to give a maiden speech on a subject close to their hearts. Lucy spoke eloquently about a subject of utmost importance for the future of our younger generations—equal access to higher education. Rather than tell you about the speech, I would now like to read from it, so that her words will now appear on the parliamentary record:

According to forecasts, 90% of near one million new jobs to be created within next five years will require tertiary qualifications. In today's New Economy, a country's future depends even more on the level of education and technical skills of its workforce.

The higher education system should be one of merit not privilege. It is a betterment towards our whole society, not just personal gain for individuals. However, our students from remote areas and low socio-economic backgrounds remain underrepresented at universities. Researches show that indigenous people only make up 1.7% of total domestic enrolments, way below its 3% population rate. Studies have suggested that a lack of enrolment is mainly due to factors such as financial pressures, their status as a minority and their strong connection to their land.

Sadly, time prevents me from reading more. (Time expired)