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Transcript of doorstop interview: Canberra, Thursday 9th October, 2003: higher education legislation and US President’s address to Parliament.



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Jenny MacklinMP Deputy Leader of the Opposition Shadow Minister for Employment, Education and Training Federal Member for Jagajaga TRANSCRIPT OF DOORSTOP - CANBERRA THURSDAY 9th OCTOBER 2003 E & OE - PROOF ONLY Subjects: Higher education legislation and US President’s address to Parliament. MACKLIN: Today the House of Representatives starts debate on this new higher education legislation and looking at the detail of the legislation before us we discover that, in fact, there are no restrictions on the number of full fee paying students that our universities can have. The Government has said that it would limit the number of full fee paying students, when you look at the detail of the bill, in fact, universities can take 100 per cent full fee payers into courses where there is high demand. So I’d say to the Howard Government it’s time for them to come clean and tell the Australian public that they, in fact, intend to make $100, 000 degrees in our universities far more common place then they’ve owned up to, to this date. JOURNALIST: Is this a drafting error or a sly attempt to change the package? MACKLIN: This is trickery on that part of Brendan Nelson. He’s tried to suggest that there will be limits to the number of full fee paying students in our universities. He’s tried to say that we won’t be making students and their families pay $100,000 for their degrees. What this Bill shows is that there are no limits on the numbers of $100,000 degrees for our universities. JOURNALIST: Is it possible that some universities could eventually only have full fee paying students? MACKLIN: Certainly in some courses. What this Bill allows is for those degrees that are in very, very high demand some of them could just be made up of full fee paying places, places that cost $100,000 or more. JOURNALIST: If the Government agreed to limit the number of domestic fee paying students would Labor consider passing the legislation? MACKLIN: Labor will not support full fee paying places for Australian undergraduates. We want to make sure that students get into university on merit. We do not want students being able to buy their way into university, to jump the queue, just because they have money or their parents have money. Imagine if you’re a parent, your child misses out on a HECS funded place at university because they just don’t quite have the marks, someone with lower marks comes in and buys their way into that university place that your child’s missed out on. I think every parent’s got every right to be very, very angry about this

legislation and we certainly will not support full fee paying places for Australian undergraduates.

JOURNALIST: As the Deputy Labor Leader, what’s your message to some MP’s who are planning a silent protest against George W Bush by turning their backs on him in Parliament?

MACKLIN: Well I understand that people have very strong views about the war, but it is very important that all Heads of State from which ever country they come are treated with respect.

JOURNALIST: So you’re saying that these courses could effectively be barring, universities could bar subsidised students from specific courses?

MACKLIN: What could happen is that some universities could decide that in some courses they will just take full fee payers because the demand is so high and people are prepared to pay. What Labor is saying is create enough HECS funded places to make sure that those students who want to go to university in our country can get there without paying $100,000 for getting that degree.

ENDS