House debates

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Statements by Members

Higher Education

1:54 pm

Photo of Clare O'NeilClare O'Neil (Hotham, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Today, higher education reforms were introduced by the Minister for Education that will place a massively increased debt burden particularly on Australian women.

I am still not sure if the coalition gets this. A few weeks ago, on 7.30 the education minister said:

Now, women are well-represented amongst the teaching and nursing students. They will not be able to earn the high incomes that say dentists or lawyers will earn, …

The minister may have since learned that more than half of Australian law and dentistry students are women. In fact, 60 per cent of Australian university graduates are women. We also know that women with the same qualifications as men earn less—less each year and less throughout their lives. So under these education reforms, more women, will earn less, but now pay more for the exact same degree as a man.

The truth is we can expect nothing more from this government, who have as their leader a man who in the past has suggested that the lack of equal representation of women in senior roles in business and politics is due to physiological differences between men and women. The terrifying truth is that this man is now the Minister for Women. That is right, ladies: Tony Abbott is the one who is watching our backs in cabinet discussions. With the Prime Minister our main advocate it is no wonder that Australian women will bear the massive brunt of these radical reforms to our higher education system.