Higher Education Support Amendment (2022 Measures No. 1) Bill 2022 – Consideration in Detail

Mr CLARE (Blaxland—Minister for Education) (16:37): We support the idea of a review. I think it’s very worthwhile in making sure that the policy does what is intended and providing us with guidance, as a government and as a parliament, for where we go forward from here: if this works, what other areas might a policy like this apply to? In that respect, in the construction of the amendment that the shadow minister has put forward he mentions education. It’s worth the House noting that on 1 January next year a scheme very similar to this will come into place for teachers and early educators in the most remote parts of Australia. So that’s another example of where a policy like this, which waives or reduces HECS debt, is used as an incentive to encourage doctors, nurse practitioners but also teachers and early educators to work in some of the more remote parts of Australia.

We have before us two amendments to set up a review. We can’t support both in these places. I’ve given an undertaking to the member for Mackellar to support her amendment, which we will deal with after this.

Mr Tudge: Nimble!

Mr CLARE: You’re sounding like Malcolm! Notwithstanding that, I’ve made the point to the shadow minister privately, and I’m happy to say it publicly, that there is some value in this amendment. As this bill moves to the Senate, I’m very open to working with senators and also with the shadow minister himself to see what further changes we might make to the construction of a review: Should it be three years or should it be two years? Should we build in that mandatory element that the shadow minister has talked about? We’re all here to try to make sure that we get good outcomes. The concept of a review is a sound one, and we’ll be supporting that through the member for Mackellar’s amendment that’ll come before the House shortly. We won’t support this amendment, but I do undertake to the shadow minister that we’re very happy to work with him and the opposition as this moves to the Senate.