Mr GILES (Scullin) (13:44): Since the Abbott government handed down its budget of broken promises, my office has been inundated with concerned constituents worried about their children's future. One in particular stood out and affected me. It was Cath, the sole parent of two teenage boys, one in high school, the other in TAFE.
Cath works part time and she sometimes struggles making ends meet. But she manages through careful budgeting and going without life's luxuries, making the really tough choices.
Cath's son, who is 17, would like to attend university. However, he is already having second thoughts since the budget announcement as he said feels that he would be a 'burden' on his family if he did so. This is a young person with a bright future, already worried about this government's stripping away opportunities for his generation to receive an education, without having to place his parent at breaking point. Cath said:
I want to be able to tell him that everything will be OK and that he need not worry about how people like him will access university, but I honestly cannot do that because I am also scared for his future and for the future of his older brother, who may never be able to progress his studies in such a climate of uncertainty and fear.
It saddens and scares me to think of the untapped potential that may never be realised.
Cath, my message to you is this: Labor will vote against these cuts to university funding and student support. Labor will not support a system of higher fees and bigger debt, reduced access and greater inequity. Labor will never tell Australians that the quality of their education depends on their capacity to pay.