I rise today to highlight the farce that is the passage of the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill. This has been going on for months now with the member for Sturt playing Basil Rathbone in the adventures of higher education. Before the election, he was Mr Nice Guy—there would be no changes—but soon after the election his first attack came in the budget papers, where we found a 20 per cent cut to university funding lurking. His second foray is his higher education package, where the 20 per cent cuts are wrapped in a deregulation ribbon. But the people cried foul when they did the maths and found the poisonous $100,000 degrees. 'This is unfair,' they said, 'and your Commonwealth scholarships will be a sham.' Undeterred, our Basil Rathbone of the parliament threw in a threat to the livelihood of 1,700 scientists. But his package is now broken—unravelling as he retreats. Last night, pinned to a metaphoric wall, Basil claimed, 'I am a fixer,' and then twirled his moustache and continued, 'And I'll have a surprise in the budget.' I would like to remind the member for Sturt that, when push comes to shove in this country, no matter how many times we have this fight—no matter how many times you watch Robin Hood—the people of Sherwood win the day.
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