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

Mr CLARE (Blaxland—Minister for Education) (16:54): I thank the member for Mackellar for bringing forward this amendment and indicate that the government will be supporting it. As I said a moment ago, having a review into a big and important piece of legislation like this is important. I also want to underline the point I made to the shadow minister, which is when the bill goes to the Senate there is an opportunity for us to try to find a bit of common ground and see whether we might make some further improvements. I’m very open to conversation about whether we build on what the member for Mackellar has put forward both in terms of time frame and identifying what other areas of the medical profession may be looked at for the purposes of policy development in the future. I recognise the member for Indi who is in the chamber. She spoke in this debate about mental health workers, and we’ve had conversations about that as well. That strikes me as the sort of thing that we could have a conversation about with senators when this bill is debated in the Senate.

On the point I made a moment ago about teachers, it’s really important that from 1 January 2023, so in only a couple weeks time, measures like this will apply to teachers and early childhood educators who work in some of the most remote parts of Australia. That’s fundamentally a good thing too. I think, generally, we all agree this is good policy, and that’s why the government has brought back a measure that the former government put forward. We agree with the concept of a review and want to make sure that it works because it’s taxpayers’ money and you want to make sure it has the impact we all want it to have. I look forward to the discussions that the government might have with the opposition and crossbench in the Senate on any further changes we may make to the review when the bill is debated in the Senate.