REMARKS TO LABOR PARTY MEETING ROOM
TUESDAY, 28 OCTOBER 2014
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Good morning colleagues.
We met a week ago to farewell Gough Whitlam.
In celebrating Gough’s life, so many of us have reflected upon the lives that he changed.
The difference that he and our beloved Labor Party made to generations of Australians.
For so many Australians, Gough and Labor gave them the opportunity to get a university degree.
There are doubtless many here and indeed many forgetful Cabinet Ministers of the Abbott Government who went to university because of Gough Whitlam and the Labor Government that he led.
Irrespective of people's circumstances, two generations of Australians have benefited from a fairer Australia - and Australia has benefitted too.
My mother dedicated her life to education, to learning, to teaching. Like many of your parents, mine went to work in order that my brother and I could each get an education.
So none of us are alone in terms of the power of education in our lives.
Labor knows in its DNA that education lifts us all up. Labor’s always believed that.
The Liberals on the other hand never have believed in education for all and they never will. And especially when it comes to higher education.
The Liberals plan to deregulate university fees, means that we will end up with a two-tier, Americanised system.
Where your only shot to get to university, unless you are very wealthy, is a scholarship.
I see some more speculation today that Clive Palmer is looking to do a deal on higher education which might see a few more morsels of scholarships thrown on the table.
Make no mistake - that is not more money for universities.
It will just mean that universities increase their fees to pay for these crumbs from the table of the Liberal Government.
Under the Liberals a degree in this country will rise and cost $100,000.
Many students will simply not be able to afford a tertiary education, more significantly many parents will feel that the opportunities for their children have evaporated - and we have already seen a reduction in inquiries about enrolments already.
This is not fair.
A university degree should depend on your good marks and your hard work.
It should depend not upon the post code you live in or your parents' bank balance.
Education should be accessible to all, not a privilege for a few.
$100,000 degrees also saddle Australians with a lifetime of debt.
Let alone the number of mature age students who will simply throw their arms up in the air and say it's too hard to reskill in a changing world.
Let alone women in particular who take time out of earning to raise families who will receive a lifetime debt sentence.
The nation is relying upon Labor to stop these bad moves.
We need an education system which creates the future of Australia, which gives every young Australian and not so young Australian the opportunity to fulfil their potential.
Education is about reaching higher ground for individuals and for Australia.
I went to the National Secretariat and I said that higher education will be one of the big issues at the next Federal election.
And we should not wait two years to run on one of the big issues of the next election.
I know the degree of passion this issue evokes in our Caucus.
I have listened to your speeches, I’ve watched your action across regional and city campuses talking to people.
It is right that the Labor Party spends its scarce resources campaigning on the things that we are passionate about, that I am passionate about.
So today that is why I am launching Labor's campaign to stop Tony Abbott's $100,000 degrees, not next week, next month – today.
We will fight the Americanisation of our universities.
We will fight the creation of a two-class standard for educational opportunity in this country.
We will fight the Liberals' debt sentence.
And we will prevail.
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