Today the member for Cunningham and I stand in parliament and challenge the Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, to come to Wollongong and explain his egregious changes to the higher education system which are going to deny thousands of students from the Illawarra region their chance for a better life. The University of Wollongong has a unique role in the region. It started its life as an offshoot of the University of New South Wales and as a teachers college. But it really got a kick-start when the Whitlam government opened up higher education to students with backgrounds like mine and the member for Cunningham's to ensure that they could get the great opportunities available through higher education.
Today the University of Wollongong is a full-service university training nurses, doctors, engineers, teachers, lawyers and accountants. Many of them are the first in their family to get a degree. Many of them are getting a second chance in education. This is all at risk because of this government's 20 per cent cut to the University of Wollongong's funding, the massive increase in university fees and the increase in interest rates on those university debts that those opposite are voting for. My question to the Minister for Education is this: Why is free education good enough for you but not good enough for the students of Wollongong? (Time expired)