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Monday, 26 February 2018
Page: 1985

Mr BROADBENT (McMillan) (17:42): I'd be one of the very few people in the parliament now who are not tertiary educated, and I don't have the experience of the member for Brand, who has had 10 years working in the sector. But I do have Federation University just near my electorate, which is very important to us. It's especially important because, many years ago, under the Howard government, we introduced the School of Medicine to what was then Monash University at Churchill.

As a regional representative I ended up fighting not only for my constituents and fighting to keep the School of Medicine there, but fighting the university as well. Monash has disregarded the Churchill campus and handed it over to Federation University. All right; they want to get out of rural areas. But now they're going to put in an administrative approach that will have the effect of closing down the School of Medicine—

An honourable member interjecting

Mr BROADBENT: They still call it the School of Medicine Monash, Gippsland. And, because of their administrative arrangement, it is just another way of moving the processes of the School of Medicine back into the city.

The reason we went to John Howard and said, 'We want a school of medicine out here with 40 places, 80 places or 60 places'—which he gave us, which was fantastic—was that we had found that we really struggled to get doctors into regional areas. As a Liberal representing a regional area, these things are extremely important to us. Why? Because, like the member for Brand said, in country areas a lot of kids don't aspire to have a tertiary education. Their parents didn't aspire for them to have a tertiary education. So we are fighting on three fronts. We are fighting that there is no expectation from the community for our children to go to university. We're fighting the university that wants to withdraw facilities from country areas and from regional areas, and move them back into the city. What we were driving at in the first place was: if we can train doctors in the country so they get the experience of the country, they may come back to the country. Instead, what they do now is they go to the city, they meet city people, they marry city people, they become city people and they don't return to the country, so we end up snookered three ways. It's been a battle to fight and to continue to fight—

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

Proceedings suspended from 17 : 45 to 17 : 5 9

Mr BROADBENT: When I was speaking before, I was making the point that we're fighting (1) the university to keep their facilities at Churchill—they're going to make administrative arrangements which mean the School of Medicine will be taken back to the city—(2) our own community as much with low expectations for their children to go to university, and (3) the governments of the day at different times for how they manage and control this portfolio. I've been around here long enough, for those of you who have not been in the parliament for a long time, to see governments do complete backflips; they do one thing in government, say something else in opposition and throw it at the government of the day for no good reason except to confuse. I'll give you an example: Labor has performed its own education backflip, saying it will oppose the coalition's 'cynical' move to cut $2.3 billion from higher education—the very same cut Labor proposed before the election.

Why do you think I get disappointed with people in parliaments when they say one thing in opposition and they do something quite different in government? I've seen the Labor Party backflip from government to opposition so many times, with brazen disregard for what their policy was in government. They have absolutely no shame. I'm still, after all these years, flabbergasted by the fact that a government can say one thing in government, knowing what they have to do in government, and then say the exact opposite when it comes to what they're doing for the people of Australia. I want the best higher education system we can possibly have. I want Federation University to really succeed in our area. I want them to be really great and I want our children to have the opportunities. That's all I'm on about. We're Liberals for regions. (Time expired)