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Monday, 26 February 2018
Page: 1977


Ms HUSAR (Lindsay) (17:11): As I've said in this place, one of the things that led me here was a comment once made by a Liberal predecessor in Lindsay, the former MP Jackie Kelly, when she famously declared that Western Sydney didn't need a university because we were a planned city. As a 20-year-old, so outraged was I about her comments that I wrote a letter to the newspaper about my disgust. I'm so glad that Kelly's comments were not heeded and instead, right in my backyard, we have Western Sydney University, a university whose alumni I belong to. Sixty per cent of the students at Western Sydney University are the first in their families to be offered an opportunity to go to university. This is a staggering figure.

Families in Western Sydney want their kids to have a great education, but the people of Lindsay feel really let down by the Turnbull government. I would one day like to walk into this chamber and talk about something that this government has done that helps or promotes the people and the families in my area to get a decent job or a decent education. But of course we haven't seen that, and we won't see that. Thousands of local children returned to school this month, as they did in everybody's electorate, and the figures released by the PBO confirm that every public school in Lindsay is worse off under this government. So we've got reduced opportunity even to get the kids into university, and then, when they do get to university, we've got a situation where the university's been defunded to the point where it's probably not even going to be able to be a university eventually, and there is no investment by this government to give the people or anyone any opportunity whatsoever to be able to get a decent job.

We've got school cuts in the order of $21 million, thanks to the funding cuts. We really want a pathway for these kids that gives them a better job and a better future. My community is now also facing fewer employment opportunities from those traditional jobs that were once done by people in my area. The families of Lindsay really do need to be prepared for the future and the changing nature of work.

The government thinks that the City Deals or the Western Sydney Airport are going to save us. Well, we heard 60,000 jobs, and we heard 11,000 jobs, and then we heard, well, maybe we'll get some jobs, but there are no guarantees. What will make a difference to the people of Western Sydney is a good education and somewhere to be able to go to university locally. They talk about 30-minute cities. Putting my kids in Western Sydney on a train to get into the University of Technology Sydney, to get into Macquarie University or to get into the University of Sydney takes more. Sydney is not a 30-minute city. It is not.

Parents want the best for their kids. I'm a mum, and I want the best for my kids. Not only do I want the best for my kids; I want the best for everyone else's kids too. We know that the world is getting much more complicated and that the way to get a good job is to get a good education. We'll need our kids to be staying at school, going to TAFE or going to universities. What the Turnbull government should do is properly fund our universities.

Last week was O-Week in many universities across Australia, and I had the pleasure of going into the Western Sydney University, talking to students who are excited about their future, their opportunities and the jobs that they will get when they finish their degree. But we're going to be hit the worst by the Turnbull government's $2.2 billion worth of university cuts. I said before that Labor uncapped university places, resulting in massive increases in the number of students going to university in my area, but that growth will now be coming to a standstill because we've effectively reintroduced a cap on the number of uni places, taking us back to the era of John Howard. Enrolments in university under Labor increased by 60 per cent in my area.

We do have one of the lowest rates of tertiary completion in New South Wales, which makes it hard to get investment out there. If you take away the opportunity for people to go to university by cutting the University of Western Sydney by $98 million, it effectively is going to harm the pathways program. A lot of year 12 students might not have got the ATAR that they wanted, but there is a pathway for them to get into the field that they're choosing to study in. This government wants to slam the door shut in their face—just close the door and say: 'You're not worthy out here. You can't come here, you can't study here and we don't want you.' That is not the way to change a community, that is not the way to enhance a community and that certainly isn't the way to build a more productive society.

The University of Western Sydney will be the hardest hit in New South Wales and the second-hardest hit in the entire country. Instead of getting any support whatsoever for anyone in my community, we are just being locked out time and time again. My community have had to rally for a hospital. They've had to rally against the world's largest incinerator. We've had to rally against a toll that's been reintroduced to a road that was already paid for. We've got a defunct train line that you can't get reliable service for. What's next for the people of my community? This government has neglected us time and time again, and it's time to stop the neglect and start the investment.