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Speech: Student Financial Supplement Scheme

I rise to speak this evening about the ongoing impact of student debt on the community. I call on the government to forgive outstanding debt from the grossly unjust Student Financial Supplement Scheme. This scheme was a rort that targeted low-income and disadvantaged students from the start. For the government to continue to collect debts 15 years after its abolition is simply unconscionable. From 1993 to 2003, the Student Financial Supplement Scheme encouraged students, including minors acting without their guardian's authority, to trade in their youth allowance for a loan.

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Motion: Special Circumstances funding for Public Schools

I move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) the Federal Government has announced $10 million in Special Circumstances Funding to drought affected schools, but has specifically excluded public schools from receiving this funding, and

(ii) more than 80% of students in rural and remote areas are enrolled in public schools and they are also deeply impacted by the drought; and

(b) calls on the Federal Government to establish a fund for government schools facing hardship as a result of ongoing drought conditions.

Question negatived.

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Speech: Early Childhood Education & Care

Thank you, Mr President. Early childhood education and care play an important role in children's development and do support families with young children. It doesn't matter what you earn, where you live and how much you work or study, your child should get the education and care that they need. Universal access to early childhood education should be extended to all three-year-olds and four-year-olds on an ongoing basis.

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Liberal/National Government Failing on Skills and Training

Australian Greens Spokesperson for Education, Senator Mehreen Faruqi, has said that the Liberal/National Government is failing on skills and training. The Department of Education’s Annual Report shows a number of skills programs that have come in seriously under budget, including the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network ($51m under budget); Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program ($35m under budget); Industry Specialist Mentoring for Australian Apprentices ($11m under budget).[1]

Senator Faruqi said:

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Speech: Rural Hardship Education Fund

The Greens support the universal right of every child to access education, and we recognise the particular hardship faced by families in isolated areas, particularly those areas in drought. Funding could include extra support for small rural schools, like Trundle Central School in the Central West or Hermidale Public School between Nyngan and Cobar, to provide extra services and care to students and their families. It could mean building new public boarding schools.

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Greens Slam Labor and Liberal Collusion to Scrap Education Investment

Greens Senator for NSW and Education Spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, has slammed Labor and the Liberals for striking a deal to sell out TAFEs and universities. The two parties voted today to abolish the $4 billion Education Infrastructure Fund, which was focused on building research and education infrastructure.

Senator Faruqi said:

“Labor and the Government have teamed up to stab education in the back by abolishing billions in education funding.

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Speech: Emergency Response Fund Bill 2019

I rise on behalf of the Greens to speak to the Emergency Response Fund Bill 2019. This bill really does lay bare the Liberal-National government's logic-free approach to the wicked problems of our time. With this bill they are attempting to abolish Australia's only—I repeat, only—TAFE and university infrastructure fund, to create an opaque Emergency Response Fund, without a cent for disaster resilience or any action on the climate crisis. What a mess!

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Speech: National Children's Week

The Greens are strong supporters of early childhood education and care. We believe that anyone who wants their child to participate in early education should be able to do so without any barriers, and early childhood educators should be paid a professional wage. We want to extend universal access to early childhood education to 24 hours a week for all three- and four-year-olds and fund the national partnership agreement on an ongoing basis. Let's also further support children and families by making child care free and by abolishing the activity test.

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