Question Time: Education

Ms CLAYDON (Newcastle—Deputy Speaker) (14:27): My question is to the Minister for Education. What is the Albanese Labor government doing in education to open the doors of opportunity wider for more Australians?

Mr CLARE (Blaxland—Minister for Education) (14:27): I thank my dear friend the legendary member for Newcastle for her question. On the weekend, I opened Western Sydney University’s new study hub in Fairfield with my great mate the Minister for Climate Change and Energy. It’s where we grew up. It’s also where I released the Australian universities accord: final report, and I did it there on purpose. That new university hub is smack-bang on the site where I got my first part-time job, collecting shopping trolleys at Fairfield Woolies. That was a long time ago: 1987.

Back then, this building still hadn’t opened. There were still only three Star Wars movies. It probably should have stayed that way!

Honourable members interjecting

Mr CLARE: I’m not counting The Mandalorian in that!

The SPEAKER: The minister will return to the question.

Mr CLARE: Those were the days. Those were the movies. And, of course, one of the greatest albums of all time had just come out. Of course I mean Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction. That could be the opposition leader’s autobiography one day!

A lot has changed since then—but not everything. In the 1980s, the percentage of people in Fairfield with a university degree was about a third of what it was across the rest of the country. Today’s it’s still only about half the national average. That’s what this hub’s about and that’s what the Universities Accord is about. It’s about changing that and breaking down that invisible barrier that stops a lot of kids from the outer suburbs from getting a crack at going to university. And it’s an even bigger issue in the regions. That’s why we’re doubling the number of university study hubs across the country—14 in the outer suburbs and 20 more in the regions. In the next few weeks I’ll announce the first 10 of those new regional university study hubs, bringing university closer to where Aussies live.

It’s all part of what the Prime Minister talks about: opening the doors of opportunity. We want Australians to earn more, and going to TAFE and university is part of that. Going to TAFE or going to university helps you to earn more. If you’ve got a uni degree you earn an average of 30 grand more than someone whose last year of education was year 12.

We want Australians to earn more and we also want Australians to keep more of what they earn. That’s why the tax cuts passed this week are so important. A nurse on 75 grand will get a tax cut of more than $1,500, a teacher on 80 grand will get a tax cut of more than $1,600 and an engineer on 95 grand will get a tax cut of more than $2,000. Every taxpayer get a tax cut—all 13.6 million of them—because we want Australians to earn more and keep more of what they earn.