Question Time: Cost of Living

Mr LIM (Tangney) (15:29): My question is to the Minister for Education. What is the Albanese Labor government doing to provide cost-of-living relief to students and workers? What approaches has the government rejected?

Mr CLARE (Blaxland—Minister for Education) (15:30): I thank my friend the terrific member for Tangney for his question. Four of the most important jobs in this country—teachers, nurses, midwives and social workers, people who work in our domestic violence refuges—will all get a tax cut next week. A social worker on 75 grand will get a tax cut of more than $1,500, a teacher on 80 grand will get a tax cut of $1,679, a nurse on 90 grand will get a tax cut of $1,929 and a midwife on $95,000 will get a tax cut of more than $2,000. That’s how you deliver real cost-of-living relief—not by jacking up power prices with expensive nuclear reactors. And if you’re a student at university and you’re studying teaching, or nursing, or midwifery or social work, then there’s something else coming to help you with the cost of living, and that is paid prac—financial support while you do your practical training. This will be the first time that the Commonwealth government has ever provided this financial support for teaching, nursing, midwifery and social work students.

A lot of students tell me that when they do their prac they’ve got to give up their part-time job and that they’ve either got to move away from home or do fewer hours. Sometimes that can mean they delay doing their degree or don’t finish it at all.

An honourable member interjecting

Mr CLARE: I got asked to tell a story—let me indulge you! A UTS midwifery student told me this: ‘I’m a first-year mature-age midwifery student. This payment is going to be absolutely life-changing for me. As a mother of two small children, I’m often balancing between work, placement and looking after my babies. There are literally some days where I’m doing 16-hour days between my study, my work and looking after my children. I cannot wait for this payment to be available for myself and other future mature-age students who might also want to enrol in this course but previously couldn’t afford to do it.’ That’s real cost-of-living relief.

When parliament returns after the winter break I will bring forward legislation to wipe out $3 billion of student debt for more than three million Australians, retrospectively. Both of these things—paid prac and wiping out student debt—help with the cost of degrees and with the cost of living, and encourage more people to become a teacher, a nurse, a midwife or a social worker. And when they get to work, Albo’s tax cuts will help them to keep more of what they earn.