I rise to emphasise the importance of investing properly in universities and tertiary education and ensuring that access to higher education is determined by ability and not family income. I do so because it is one of my key commitments as a Labor member of parliament. I do so because I have had an overwhelming number of pleas to defend and extend our support for universities from my constituents. I do so because access to quality higher education is one of the most fundamental requirements for ensuring equality of opportunity and fulfilment of personal potential. And I do so because it is one of the most fundamental foundations for a progressive, dynamic and growing economy and nation.
Credibility is very important in this debate and that is why the comment made by the Prime Minister that 'This is the budget that the Australian people elected us to bring down' is such a breathtakingly arrogant statement. It reflects how out of touch this government is with community sentiment but it also reflects, more importantly, a disregard for the Australian people.
Over the past weeks there have been a lot of calls from government MPs and business leaders—not all but some—for people to stop complaining about the federal budget measures and to get on with the business of putting shoulders to the wheel to collectively address the so-called pending budget emergency or the debt problem—as the member for Hindmarsh constantly referred to it in his contribution this evening—by putting an end to the age of entitlement. Underlying these calls is the message that the Australian people have never had it so good and therefore a bit of pain for the sake of the nation's prosperity is justified. There are so many ways in which this narrative is so very, very wrong. It is wrong because these budget measures are predicated on a series of untruths, concealments and broken promises, as evidenced by the Prime Minister's own words throughout last year leading up to the federal election.