Question Time: Tertiary Education

Dr FREELANDER (Macarthur) (15:06): My question is to the Minister for Education. How is the Albanese Labor government supporting students and workers in the higher education system and setting the system up for the future?

Mr CLARE (Blaxland—Minister for Education) (15:06): I thank my friend the marvellous member for Macarthur, the great Dr Freelander, for his question. Our universities are one of the great engines of our economy. Every year they produce thousands of engineers, doctors like Dr Freelander, nurses, teachers, paramedics and lots more. Every one of them will get the tax cuts that were passed by this House today. A nurse on 75 grand will get a tax cut of more than 1,500 bucks. A paramedic on 80 grand will get a tax cut of more than 1,600 bucks. An engineer on 90 grand will get a tax cut of more than 1,900 bucks. The people who make all of this possible, the lecturers and the tutors and, before them, the school teachers and the early educators, will get a tax cut too.

Unlike those opposite, who think that aspiration starts at 190 grand, we think it starts in the classroom. We want everyone to earn more and keep more of what they earn. We want all Aussie taxpayers to get Albo’s tax cuts. That is what they’ll get after the tax cuts passing through the House today.

The fact is that we need more teachers, more nurses and more engineers. We need more TAFE and uni graduates. In the years ahead, nine out of 10 new jobs will require you to finish school and then go on to TAFE or uni. In the next few weeks, I will release the Universities Accord. It’s a blueprint to set up our higher education system for the next decade and beyond. It looks at how we can build the skills that we are going to need, how we can give more people from poor families, from the outer suburbs and from our regions a fair crack at going to university and how we can help students with the cost of living. It also looks at how we can keep our students safe.

Universities are places where people study and work, but they are also places where people live. The horrible truth is that one in 20 students report being sexually assaulted since they started university. One in six have been sexually harassed. Next week, education ministers will meet to consider the establishment of an independent national student ombudsman with the powers to investigate complaints made by students and resolve disputes with universities. I want to thank the people who are fighting for this and who have fought for this for years and years, people like Sharna Bremner from End Rape on Campus, Camille Schloeffel and Audrey Mims from the STOP Campaign, Renee Carr from Fair Agenda and many more. The truth is that they are the change-makers, and change is coming.