Higher education cuts

There will be no surprise today that I rise to speak about higher education. Before the election this government promised no cuts to education. The higher education bill introduced today confirms that this government has introduced cuts to every level of education, from child care through to postgraduate study. The Minister for Education introduced into the House today legislation that will negatively change the face of higher education in this country. He did this in the wake of a budget that acts to entrench inequity at all levels of education. He did this while the government ushers in draconian cuts to Newstart eligibility, apprenticeship support programs and supported access to TAFE programs. He did this while those opposite scream at our young people, 'You must earn or learn!'

Today's legislation closes the loop on access to equity in education and makes the ability of young people in this country to meet that demand so much harder. The changes again hit low- and middle-income families and risk locking young people from my community out of university. In Lalor, people of all ages want to talk about this unfair change. Families are seriously looking at their options to assess if university is possible for their children, and meanwhile the minister cruelly quips that he is not asking for their left kidney. This is an outrageous move by this minister. It includes a 20 per cent cut to university funding and will see fees rise and students burdened. My question to the prime minister is simple: why is some debt bad but student debt good?

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