Questions Without Notice – Universities: Fees

Ms WATSON-BROWN (Ryan) (14:45): My question is to the Prime Minister. You and I, and many others in this place, benefited from free university before fees were introduced by the Hawke Labor government. Last night the University of Melbourne Vice Chancellor called for first degrees to be free, something the Greens have also been calling for. Will you commit to making university free or is Labor content with students continuing to accumulate massive rising debts?

Mr CLARE (BlaxlandMinister for Education) (14:46): No, we don’t support that, because what that would mean is that fewer people go to university, not more. In fact, that would mean that just a lucky few would end up going to university, and the sort of people that would miss out would be people from poorer backgrounds, people from the bush and more Indigenous Australians. Kermit the Frog was wrong: it is easy being Green because you can promise the world and you don’t have to deliver anything. You can pretend that you care about homelessness but you’re going to vote against putting a roof over their heads. Here on this side of the parliament we want more homeless people to have a roof over their heads and we want more Australians to get the chance to go to university. That’s what the accord will be all about.