House debates

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Statements by Members

Higher Education

1:54 pm

Photo of Lisa ChestersLisa Chesters (Bendigo, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Like the member for Brand, I was the first in my family to enrol to go to university. I wasn't the first to graduate. My mother beat me by six months. She was a little bit more academic than I was. But I did graduate with a humanities degree—a degree that, today, this government wants to radically increase the cost of, excluding so many of this generation of young people from accessing university. This government, with what they've pushed through the House, while stopping members like me from speaking, will see so many regional students, so many first-in-family students, miss out.

In Bendigo, at the Bendigo La Trobe University campus, they are very worried about the impacts that higher fees will have on enrolments. They are also very worried about this government's complete inaction to support a sector that is in trouble. La Trobe University has already called for one round of voluntary redundancies. We lost 12 per cent of our staff at the Bendigo campus. They've now called for another round of redundancies.

Our regional campuses are at risk. They are cross-subsidised by income that is made in the metros by international students. Yet all we've seen from this government is not support for the university sector but attack after attack after attack. How will we lead ourselves out of this crisis, out of this pandemic, and how will we recover from this recession without a vibrant university sector, particularly in the regions and particularly with young people engaged?