Senate debates

Monday, 16 March 2015

Matters of Public Importance

Higher Education

4:59 pm

Photo of Bridget McKenzieBridget McKenzie (Victoria, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

It does not matter whether it is Senator Polley, Senator Carr or Senator Urquhart; the Labor Party's approach to funding real higher education reform in this country is the same. Since Julia Gillard left the prime min—oh, sorry; she did not leave. She was thrown out, stabbed in the back by her own party. I apologise, Mr Acting Deputy President. Unlike the opposition, I will get my facts straight. Former Prime Minister Gillard reformed our higher education system to the point that people who previously had been locked out now, under a demand-driven system, were able to access higher education. Unfortunately, the Labor Party forgot to budget for it. Increased demand in a demand-driven system saw escalating costs. Our side of politics wants to see that enfranchisement of rural and regional students and low-socioeconomic students absolutely maintained, and that is why this minister and our reforms, at their very heart, have been about ensuring that those who have been locked out are able to be maintained within the higher education system, because we will actually ensure it is financially sustainable.

Senator Polley made a really interesting remark about credit cards. I think that, if you look at the way the Labor Party approaches budgeting, it is a little like the credit card. Senator Polley or the former education ministers will go out and put the new dress on the credit card. Senator Carr might go out and have a very nice meal and some wine and put it on the credit card. But at some point, Senator Carr, that credit card statement is going to come in, and what are you going to do? Not pay the mortgage that week? Not pay the kids' school fees? What are you going to do? You have to live within your means, Senator Carr. You have to have a higher education system that is actually financially sustainable.


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