Senate debates

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Income Support for Students) Bill 2009

Consideration of House of Representatives Message

6:09 pm

Photo of Steve FieldingSteve Fielding (Victoria, Family First Party) Share this | Hansard source

I could not get down here earlier because I was working on some Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme details. Senator Carr has, I think, totally underestimated the Australian public on this issue, and also the Senate. A clever country would indeed make it easier for our kids to get to university and not make it harder for kids from our rural and regional areas to get to university. I am a little surprised that the Greens have decided to sell out the bush—but, then again, they do that all the time on the environment so there is no difference at all. I would have thought that Senator Xenophon would have also stuck to what we had, because frankly this is a real, live issue—this is about rural and regional kids getting to university. Those amendments that were passed by the Senate, I believe, are still vital.

I think the government needs to rethink its position. It had plenty of time to rethink it. You come in here and warn about 150,000 scholarships but it is your doing. It is your recklessness. You have had plenty of time to think about it but you have been reluctant, and you have come in here with a bit of sugar coating—a little bit of a review; a little bit of this and a little bit of that—but really in essence you have not got to the heart of the issue. This is about rural and regional kids who need to relocate and cutting them off from something they definitely need. And you know they need it because you have extended it—you have exempted some gap year kids this year. You have also come in here previously and said there was recklessness on the part of the coalition when talking about cutting scholarships. Well, you have done the same thing. But you spin it anyway—you spin it around again and again; you spin so much that you will make yourselves dizzy. Let us get to the heart of the issue. Let us not attack rural and regional kids going to university. These are key amendments, and I am surprised that you have not found a better way to resolve the issue.


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