Canberra Report: Let's do what we can to lighten the load

I know all readers will join me in expressing concern about the coming bushfire season.

Recent events, predicted temperatures, and the big dry suggest we are in for a shocker. We ask people to give early thought to preparation including simple things like cleaning house gutter systems and removing any other unnecessary fuel sources in and around the property.

I thank our firefighters who will give their time and risk their lives no matter when the emergency occurs. Let's do all we can to lighten their considerable load.

Finally, let's end the arguments about climate change. It's a fact that the climate is changing in challenging ways and we should be doing all we can to both mitigate causes and to adapt to harsher conditions. Let's think about our children and our grandchildren.

UNIVERSITY FUNDING

WE all want Australia to be a country with a strong economy and secure, decently paid jobs. To achieve this, investment in education must be a top priority. That's why a Shorten Labor government will invest an extra $174 million to help ensure all Australians get the chance to study at uni.

This commitment will go towards mentoring, support and other specialised programs designed to boost opportunities for uni study in communities where graduation rates are low. We believe it should be your ability, not your bank balance that determines whether you get the chance to study at uni.

There are many bright, talented students in every part of Australia, but the opportunities for uni study are uneven. Currently, a young person from the Hunter Valley is more than three times less likely to get a uni degree than someone on Sydney's North Shore. We want to change that.

We want to support students who are first generation in their family to go to uni. We want our unis to attract more students from our outer suburbs and the country, more Indigenous students, and more students with a disability.

Unis must be actively recruiting and supporting these students. Our funding will also encourage unis to collaborate with TAFEs and not-for-profit and community organisations, in areas including mentoring and outreach.

This $174 million investment comes on top of Labor's commitment to abolish Scott Morrison's unfair cap on uni places. Abolishing the cap will see the number of Australians getting a uni education soar by around 200,000 over 12 years.


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