This weekend I held a mobile office in Calwell in the south of my electorate, and constituents spoke to me about the very many concerns they have following the Abbott government's budget of broken promises: the increased fuel tax, the GP copayment and the thousands of public service job cuts, to name a few.
But there was one thing that united almost everyone I spoke to, and that was outrage at the proposed changes to higher education. I heard this outrage from Canberrans who had never been to university themselves but who had aspirations for their kids and grandkids to one day have the opportunity. I heard these concerns from Canberrans still paying off their HECS debt and wondering how they will cope with the significantly increased interest they will have to pay from 2016. I heard these concerns from Canberrans who had always considered themselves lucky to have such great universities right here in their own city but who now fear that their children will never have the opportunity to study at those universities.
Canberrans are united against the Abbott government's changes to higher education. They know it will make university study inaccessible to people from low- and middle-income backgrounds. They know it will create a two-tier system where only the very rich can access our best universities. They know these changes will saddle our kids with enormous debts, preventing them from ever entering the housing market or getting ahead in life. They know these changes will be bad for our country and take us back to the haves and have-nots of the fifties.