Page 396 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 17 February 2015

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MR BARR: There can be no clearer contrast between the ACT Labor government’s efforts and those ideologically motivated attempts by the federal Liberals to cut funding to our universities, to deregulate university fees and to see students in this city and around the country forced to pay $100,000 or more to get a university education.

The federal education minister and the Prime Minister have effectively taken a sink or swim approach to Australia’s higher education sector. They appear to think that degrees can be priced and bought like any other consumable product. We disagree. The ACT Labor government knows that higher education means much more than this. It is about an opportunity and a fulfilling career. It is about research, innovation and ideas. For the ACT, these are fundamental components of what higher education means for this city. It does not just begin and end with the group of eight universities.

Those opposite, the Liberal Party, have been conspicuously silent in relation to the impacts of their federal counterparts’ agenda on Canberra’s universities. Once again, it is a situation where the Liberal Party want to hack into a significant Canberra institution. Their friends up on the hill want to strip 20 per cent of funding away from the University of Canberra, and it is their view, the Liberal Party’s view, that this is a good thing for the university sector. Well, they are wrong and their approach stands to be condemned.

Our approach to support the University of Canberra to enter into a new phase of development, of vibrancy, stands in marked contrast. We support the University of Canberra and are proud to do so. We will bring in a package of legislative reform that will allow the university to achieve its full potential. The choice from the Liberals is cuts, cuts, cuts. (Time expired.)


MS LAWDER: My question is to the Minister for Education and Training. Minister, I refer to the situation where a convicted criminal without a working with vulnerable people check visited ACT schools through a program facilitated by a community organisation. Minister, did your conversations with this organisation represent a conflict between your ministerial responsibilities and your personal interests?

MS BURCH: I hope Ms Lawder feels all the better for asking that question. I refer you to my statement, and the answer is no.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Lawder.

MS LAWDER: Minister, did your position as minister explicitly or implicitly influence the placement of the person within that organisation?


MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mrs Jones.

MRS JONES: Minister, have you had any communication with any representatives of the organisation since the Canberra Times published details about the matter last week?

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