Page 3285 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 18 August 2009

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fight for the international crown. That has brought them to an elite level, competing against 40,000 students and 12,000 teams from 34 countries from around the world.

I think it is a great opportunity for local students to really think about their careers but also to think about how they can think outside the square in their schoolwork. The F1 in schools competition gives students an opportunity to apply their classroom knowledge to practical situations while enhancing their skills in engineering, science, marketing and project management through collaboration with experienced professionals and relevant industries. In all of this, while they are having fun, they also learn what teamwork really does mean—time management, organisation and, probably most of all, patience.

I have been out to Wanniassa to see these students in action and to see the vehicle that we are hoping will take out first prize in the international competition. It is very smart to see these kids in front of a computer, working up a design of a vehicle using software on a computer, then pulling that to a milling machine and turning it into this snazzy little vehicle. They paint it, decal it and throw it down a 20-metre track doing in excess of 80 kilometres an hour.

I actually have all faith that this year they will bring home first place. They are in London. If they do win, the winner will be visiting Buckingham Palace. I am sure the folk in Wanniassa are a little bit excited about that. I just wanted to share with you some of the wonderful activity that your young folk in Brindabella are up to. I wish them all the best.

Education—student union fees

MR COE (Ginninderra) (6.16): Earlier this year I spoke in the Assembly about the Rudd government’s plan to introduce compulsory student union fees. The Rudd government broke an election promise and proposed that universities could set a compulsory fee up to $250 to be indexed annually for the provision of so-called student services.

Compulsory student fees were abolished by the Howard government in 2005. I was very pleased to learn that a few hours ago, the Senate voted down the Rudd government’s Student Fees and Amenities bill. Today the Senate voted for common sense, for freedom of choice and for the welfare of tertiary students. It means that students are able to decide how to spend their limited money on what goods and services they want and need. It is a vote of confidence in students’ ability to make decisions.

The Senate voted against a thinly veiled attempt to reintroduce funding to unresponsive student organisations that use student money to fund their political careers. The Senate voted against a ridiculous and paternalistic scheme that is blind to the needs of students. Far from helping the poorer students, it actually penalises them the most because it is a regressive tax. It does not matter if students cannot afford the charge, use the services or not or do not subscribe to the same political views. It is a tax.

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