Higher Education

Click here to watch Sharon's speech

Ms BIRD: (Cunningham) (13:48): In this final week that the parliament sits, there is a policy over in the Senate flapping and flailing and attempting to find a new breath of life. It should not do so. I want to commend the senators who have taken the actions to put an absolute end to the higher education reforms of this government. The minister can run around and attempt to give it mouth-to-mouth, attempt to staple together some sort of deal or attempt to make it a policy that is somehow acceptable—paint it up and give it a bit more of a promotional opportunity. The reality is that the very heart of this policy—

Government members interjecting

Ms BIRD: I have to say this policy is also characterised by noise and bluster on the other side, from yelling down the opposition argument. It is always a sign of bad policy, that those who shout loudest and longest know how bad it is. The reality is that this policy will undermine the access and opportunity for all Australians, particularly in regions like mine, to gain an affordable university qualification. I say to those in the Senate that they are doing absolutely the right thing in blocking a fundamentally flawed policy that no-one was told about before the election, that no-one was handed an outline of before the election. The government should now absolutely walk away from its failed policy, abandon its Americanisation of our university system and give the regions a fair go.