Questions Without Notice - Higher Education

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Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (14:08): My question is to the Prime Minister. Speaking about his plans for higher education changes on Saturday, the Prime Minister said he was:

Very committed—very, very committed.

He also said:

This is a reform that … will come up again.

Can the Prime Minister confirm that he is still firmly committed to his plans for $100,000 degrees?

Mr ABBOTT (Warringah—Prime Minister) (14:08): There are no plans for what the member suggested—no plans whatsoever. Our plans are for more freedom for our university sector. If the members opposite do not respect the minister or, indeed, me, they should at least respect Professor Brian Schmidt, Nobel laureate, who said this morning on ABC radio:

I think this is an incredibly important reform. The current university funding model is, in my opinion, not very good. I would say—

he went on—

it’s close to being broken.

This is Brian Schmidt, Nobel laureate, who says that the current model is broken—someone that members opposite were quoting yesterday. He says that the current model is close to being broken and he goes on:

It’s certainly not serving either the students or the universities very well.

We need to fix it—

Mr Watts: Stop verballing him!

Mr ABBOTT: I am quoting Professor Brian Schmidt accurately.

The SPEAKER: The member for Gellibrand will desist.

Mr ABBOTT: We need to fix it, and so I have some sympathy with Minister Pyne trying to do something. He says we need to fix it; he is fixing it. He is the fixer we need to sort out Labor's mess.