House debates

Monday, 14 July 2014

Questions without Notice

Higher Education

2:53 pm

Photo of George ChristensenGeorge Christensen (Dawson, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Education. Will the minister explain how the government's higher education reforms will assist Central Queensland University and other universities to compete in a global education market, giving Australians more opportunity to obtain a higher education qualification?

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Minister for Education) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Dawson for his question. In the break I was pleased to be in his electorate, and also the member for Capricornia's electorate. I was hosted by Michelle Landry, the excellent new member for Capricornia, at the University of Central Queensland at the launch of the newly-emerged Central Queensland TAFE and Central Queensland University into a dynamic new institution led by a dynamic vice chancellor, Scott Bowman. He wants to grasp the opportunities that higher education reform will bring in the budget. In fact, at the launch with the member for Capricornia, Scott Bowman said, 'we are licking our lips about higher education reforms, because we are a lick-smackingly good university.' That is the kind of attitude the government is looking for from the university sector—to grasp the opportunity for freedom this government plans to give them.

The previous government were incompetent in government and are irresponsible in opposition. Under the previous government there was a declining university sector. When we won power last September we saw there were declining results for our universities around the world—in fact on the Shanghai Jiao Tong index, most of our institutions were falling behind, some were flatlining and one or two exceptions were doing better than they had before. The government was faced with the prospect of our universities falling behind in a slow decline, like our manufacturing sector.

Ms Butler interjecting

Photo of Mrs Bronwyn BishopMrs Bronwyn Bishop (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

One more utterance and the member for Griffith will leave.

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Minister for Education) Share this | | Hansard source

We had to choose between doing what Labor did—which was just to keep kicking the can down the road, being incompetent and now irresponsible—or grasping the opportunity to do something about higher education in Australia. Grasp that opportunity we did—and we want to give our university sector the freedom that they need to be able to compete globally against our Asian competitors. We are going to give them the freedom to put a value on their best courses, so they can keep doing the things they do well, and do them even better and invest the extra resources they gain into research. We will give them the freedom to make the decisions about what they do well, and what they do not want to continue to do into the future. We want to give them the freedom to draft their own scholarships fund so they can have packages that attract the best and brightest students from around Australia of low socio-economic status and to give them the opportunity to get a higher education qualification. The difference between us and Labor could not be more stark. Whereas this side of the government wants to spread opportunity and give the universities the chance to compete globally, Labor wants to keep being irresponsible. Just as they were incompetent in government, they are irresponsible in opposition—it goes on and on.(Time expired)