Senate debates

Monday, 17 August 2009

Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Student Services and Amenities, and Other Measures) Bill 2009

In Committee

9:12 pm

Photo of John WilliamsJohn Williams (NSW, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

I will be brief in speaking in support of Senator Joyce. My concern is for regional universities. I relate especially to the University of New England in Armidale, which I live close to. It was the National Party—it was then the Country Party—that established that university and it is a vital facility for people from regional areas as well as city areas. Having discussions with management at the University of New England I discovered that last year they spent $800,000 of their budget to maintain their sporting facilities. Frankly, that is money that they cannot afford.

So the situation is this: if they have a sporting levy they will have the money to maintain those facilities. If we do not have such a levy then the taxpayers will have to pay for it. When I say ‘the taxpayers’ I mean people like shearers or bricklayers who are bending their backs to carry out the hard work that people like Minister Carr have probably never done. They will be the ones paying—those people who have probably never set foot on the campus of a university. They will have to pay for it.

Those who go to university will enjoy the free sporting facilities so long as the university remains viable and does not close down. The big concern is that most of the people who will be paying for it will never set foot on a university campus. That, to me, is not fair.

The bill has some crazy ideas, especially in relation to funding for students. An example is the funding of legal fees for students. Why would you want to fund the legal fees of students when many in the university are studying law and could carry out the service free of charge? That is why I do not like many sections of the bill, but in support of Senator Joyce, I believe that a non political levy would provide urgent funding that is required to keep these facilities going, especially in the regional areas. That is why I support the amendment.


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