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PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES Speech SECOND READING Higher Education and Research Reform Bill 2014 Wednesday, 11 February 2015 Clive Palmer – Member for Fairfax Mr PALMER (Fairfax) (09:30): I come here today full of admiration for the education minister and his confidence in the education he himself has enjoyed, which has taken him and put him on a pedestal for all Australians to look up to in this parliament. It has given him the opportunity to bring forth his ideas for us to consider and discuss. I come here too with admiration for the Treasurer, who has gone to university, toiled through his university career and come here so the nation can enjoy the benefits of that education. But I, like the Treasurer and the Minister for Education, was the beneficiary of real reforms in the education sector made by Edward G Whitlam when he was Prime Minister of this country. The Treasurer did not pay for his education, nor did the Minister for Education. They never would have got to this place without a university education; they never would have had the opportunity. The cost of educating someone from primary school through to high school for 12 years is far greater than the amount we lose in one year’s unemployment in this country. A good education policy is not only good social policy, it is good economic policy. This country benefits by capturing its resources and there are no greater resources to be captured for the benefit of the nation than the intellect of its citizens. Intellect is not distributed evenly across society. It is not a measure of how much money you may have or what your prospects may be but of what you can contribute to the nation. No Australian, wherever they may come from, should be handicapped from going to university. I have a friend whose daughter recently graduated from university and now has four years debt. She cannot buy a home—she is newly married, but she has to slog away for four or eight years before she can get a housing loan. When you are 23 or 24, that is the most important time of your life for taking risks, being bold and taking initiatives. We have seen what has happened in the United States with Google, Apple, and Facebook—a whole lot of innovations. Do we really want our young people to leave university and be saddled with debt—to be so conservative that they are too frightened to think, to take risks and to stimulate our economy? Because that is what this bill does. It creates more and more costs for students, the people who can least afford it. It saps their creativity. It takes from them the opportunity for the whole nation to benefit from their endeavours at a time of their life when they could make a real difference. The Prime Minister has recently said, in the last two days, that there has been a fundamental change in the Liberal Party—a fundamental change in the government. He said they are going to listen to what is happening. Well, they are not listening to the people of Australia. They are not listening to the Senate. They are wasting their time in the House of Representatives because only an idiot expects to get a different outcome while repeatedly doing the same thing time after time. How many times does the Senate have to reject this legislation before the government gets the message? The message is: this legislation will not pass the Senate. This legislation is through, finished, wound up. Every one of our senators in the Senate will vote no. They will not take an amendment. They will not take a compromise because they believe the right to a fair and proper education is the indelible right of all Australians. The right of our people to enjoy a better and rising standard of living is fundamental to their welfare, and it is to the benefit of our nation. 96 The Last Sentry at the Gate: Clive Palmer & the 44th Parliament of Australia


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