SUBJECTS: Labor’s plan to help Australians study at uni; Labor’s grant to Moreton Bay Campus – University of the Sunshine Coast; CFMMEU; Bullying and sexism in the Liberal and National Parties.

ROBERT CRAIG, UNIVERSITY OF THE SUNSHINE COAST: Okay, it's my great pleasure today to welcome some people on the campus here at USC's Caboolture campus. Tanya Plibersek is here with the three Labor candidates from the local electorates - Susan Lamb who's our local member here and Ali from our Redcliffe area and Corinne. So welcome here, it's a great pleasure to have you here. We've got our two student ambassadors here who are able to answer your questions as well. So welcome. 

SUSAN LAMB, MEMBER FOR LONGMAN: Thank you, Robert and it is an absolute pleasure of course to be here with our Deputy Leader, Tanya Plibersek, our Shadow Minister for Education with our Labor candidates for Dickson and Petrie - Ali France and Corinne Mulholland - and incredibly important that we're here today; of course with our USC ambassadors, Tarni and A-arna. For over fifteen years, this precinct right here in the middle of Caboolture, has been the education hub for students right across the region. Students from our amazing schools, students who have come back to re-skill and retrain, students that have been raising their families and sometimes who have been out of their educational journey for many decades and are coming back, it's been an amazing precinct for them. So, most recently, though we've had USC move into the region. Very soon, in 2020, we will have USC expand down into Petrie and we really welcome them into our area. So while USC is investing in education, what we know is that the Liberal government is doing nothing but tearing apart education for people in our community. They have ripped billions of dollars out of schools, they are denying our earliest learners an access to an early childhood education, they are removing the ability for everyone to have an opportunity to come to university. Well today we're here to make an announcement in relation to making sure that everybody can have a chance to get a university education and I'll hand  over to Tanya in a moment to make that announcement of a $174 million package to get more students into a university education. Last time we were here at this campus on this precinct, we made a one million commitment to a hospital training ward at the TAFE. Labor is committed to ensuring we're training our students for jobs, we're making sure we're giving the very best opportunity to get into work and we're going to do that by investing in education. Tanya.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION:  Thanks very much, Susan and thanks to Robert for his welcome. It's great to be here with Corinne Mulholland and Ali France, and with Tarni and A-arna. We're going to be talking about an announcement that Labor is making today of $174 million to give more young Australians the opportunity of a university education. What we know is that the jobs that are being created in coming years, about 90 per cent of them will require a TAFE or a university qualification. That's why we're investing in TAFE, like we have here in this campus in the new hospital simulation ward, but it's also why we want to invest more in our universities. Labor's already announced an uncapping of student places, that's a $10 billion commitment over the next decade to give hundreds of thousands of additional students the opportunity of a university education. But on top of uncapping places, today we're announcing a $174 million fund to make sure that the opportunity of a university education is more evenly spread across our community. There are parts of Australia where lots of people have a university degree - if you take the north shore of Sydney for example, 63 per cent of young people have a university qualification, but if you look at Moreton Bay, it's about 13 per cent of young people that have a university qualification. Now we know that's not because people are smarter on the north shore of Sydney, it's because they've had more of an opportunity to get that education. We want to spread that opportunity more evenly.

When Labor was last in government, we uncapped student places so we saw more than 200,000 extra students get the chance at a university education. But very importantly, we introduced programs like this - mentoring, support and outreach programs - to make sure that more students who are the first in their family got the chance at a great education. A lot of people my age and older would say that the reason they went to uni is because Gough Whitlam opened the door to working class kids. Well we are the custodians of that tradition. When we were last in government, we saw an almost 50 per cent increase in the number of students from regional and rural backgrounds going to university. We saw close to a doubling of students with a disability going to university and we saw an increase of almost 50 per cent of students with an Indigenous background going to university. We know the capacity for hard work - we know that brains - are spread evenly right across our country. What's not spread evenly is opportunity; so we want to spread opportunity more evenly to every community in Australia. We'll work with Vice-Chancellors, with TAFE, with community organisation that are experienced in outreach and mentoring, to make sure that more Australians who are prepared to work hard and study hard get the opportunity of a university education. Now I wanted A-arna and Tarni just to say a few words about their experience of coming to university.

A-ARNA DARAZ, STUDENT: Hi my name is A-arna Daraz, and I am currently studying at the USC Sippy Downs campus. I am in my second year and after this semester I can say that I am half way in my bachelor of laws. I have found my passion for law in high school when I started studying legal studies in grade ten, loved it throughout high school, and decided that's what I wanted to do. So, I want straight into uni and I have never looked back and I absolutely love the USC Sippy Downs campus and this campus as well and I can’t wait for the future campus in 2020 to come. 

TARNI BRUCE, STUDENT: Hi I am Tarni I am studying a bachelor of criminology and justice. Studying at USC for me means opportunities as I moved down from a remote indigenous community, which had no opportunities for study or employment. So USC to me means that I get to study and create a better future for myself and my family. 
PLIBERSEK: Fantastic. Corinne, do you want to say a few words?

CORINNE MULHOLLAND, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR PETRIE: Well I could not be more proud to stand here today as a young women myself, who grew up in a single parent family and being here today with A-arna and Tarni, and hearing their stories it underscores just how important today's announcement is for young people in this region. I am proud to be a member of the Shorten Labor team, who is delivering higher education’s opportunities. Not just at university but also for TAFE facilitates and TAFE education here in Petrie. As Tanya has said it is an absolute blight that here in Moreton Bay our young people are amongst the lowest when it comes to higher education in the country, 13 per cent. And when that's compared against 64 per cent or 63 per cent of the north shore of Sydney; we have a lot of work to do. Programs just like the one we have announced today for $174 million will go a long way towards encouraging young people into university so they can live up to their expectations and their hopes. 

ALI FRANCE, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR DICKSON: I am really really pleased to be here today with Tanya and the ladies behind me. This commitment, this $174 million commitment, is going to benefit students right across Moreton Bay. We know that we are one of the fastest growing regions in Australia, but our rates of university graduation is one of the lowest. This funding commitment will give our students the best opportunity to get to university and also prepare for the jobs of the future. So thank you again Tanya for coming today and making this wonderful announcement. 

PLIBERSEK: Great, any questions?

JOURNALIST: How much of the $174 million goes to people in Moreton Bay area and [inaudible]?

PLIBERSEK: Well that will depend on the applications that come from the University of the Sunshine Coast. We will be writing to all Vice Chancellors shortly and asking them to make submissions for programs that would benefit the students that they are targeting. But we will also be opening this program to TAFE, because we know that TAFE education is also a really important benefit for the students that complete a TAFE education, and we will be working with community and non-government organisations that have been doing great work in mentoring students from across the Australian community, lifting their aspirations for university, and lifting their chances of success through their mentoring programs.

But I can tell you about this local community because we were just talking a moment ago about the new campus we have committed to, the Moreton Bay campus at the University of the Sunshine Coast. That's a $50 million building commitment that will eventually see 10,000 students in the local area able to go to that university campus, studying science and health science, environmental science, with a new super lab. There will be about 1,500 jobs created during the process of building that new campus, and instead of having to travel from this region back into Brisbane or further afield to get an education, young people will be able to get that education closer to home. 

JOURNALIST: So you said these grants are designated after Chancellors and Vice Chancellors apply for them?

PLIBERSEK: Absolutely, so we will be expecting universities, TAFEs and other organisations to apply for the grants, but you can tell from some of the types of programs that we have seen in the past, what we will see in the future. So James Cook University had a fantastic program of mentoring. First year uni students being mentored by third and fourth year uni students, making sure the dropout rates were much lower. We saw Latrobe University doing outreach with local high schools that had under-representation of students going onto university. The link between the university and those high schools saw an almost 40 per cent increase in the number of students going from those school to university. I mean there are plenty of examples of successful programs, the shame is the Liberal government has actually cut funding to these programs. We want to restore funding and broaden out the programs so that we can increase access to TAFE as well as university. 

JOURNALIST: How many students do you think will benefit from this? 

PLIBERSEK: Well thousands. We have seen thousands of students benefit from programs like this in the past. You have just met two terrific students. But everywhere I go, every university I go to, they talk about enabling courses or pathway programs which have been really important in getting students into university and they talk about these sort of participation and pathways programs that have really done outreach into the community. Gone to local high schools, talking to students as young as year nine about perhaps whether they'd be interested in a university education, the sort of courses they can do, the sorts of supports that are available. We know that the jobs that are being created today aren't like jobs 40 years ago where you can walk in off the street, start at the bottom, get on the job training and be the managing director of the company in 15 years’ time. More and more jobs need a university or a TAFE qualification as a prerequisite before you get your foot in the door. You look at an area like this, and the reason we were at  Caboolture during the election campaign making the announcement about the new nursing training facilities here, is that we know that there will be jobs in health care services and in disability supports services in the Caboolture region in years to come. Why aren't we training our own young people to do those jobs? Why aren't we training right now for the jobs that we know are coming down the track? Of course we should be, we have to be. Why aren't we training locals to do the jobs that are emerging in this local community?

JOURNALIST: What happens when universities in central Sydney or central Brisbane apply for these grants?

PLIBERSEK: Well it depends on what kind of applications they put in. The University of Technology in my own electorate is doing fantastic work, doing outreach with disadvantaged students in Western Sydney and encouraging them to pursue a university education, they're doing mentoring and tutoring programs with their uni students building aspiration for university and a whole lot of schools where kids are the first in their family to consider a university degree as an option for them. That's great.

JOURNALIST: So it will be based entirely on the merit not where the universities are?

PLIBERSEK: Well it will be based on merit but you look at what we are trying to do, we are trying to give underrepresented groups of people an opportunity to go to university and we know that some of the most underrepresented areas are outer suburban areas, fast growing communities in the outer suburbs of our capital cities and regional communities as well. We really do need to target those underrepresented communities and we're willing to partner with whoever has got the best ideas, the most likely to be successful. Okay, any other questions?

JOURNALIST: Just in relation to John Setka, would it be better for members if the Victorian CFMEU was [inaudible]? 

PLIBERSEK:  I think it's important that he deleted the tweet that was really inappropriate at the weekend and certainly I don't support that sort of involvement of children in that way in a political campaign. But I also think it's a bit rich for Scott Morrison to be talking about de-registering a whole organisation because of the inappropriate behaviour of some of its members. I mean he is the guy who voted against the banking Royal Commission 26 times, it's like saying we are going to ban banks because some parts of banks have behaved badly or illegally. If someone does the wrong thing, if an organisation does the wrong thing, they should censured for that, they should face the full force of the law and they can be publicly criticised for that. But we need to also not be sucked into a political opportunity that Scott Morrison is interested in pursuing .

JOURNALIST: Is there a toxic culture of sexism in both sides of Federal Parliament and if so how do you fix that?

PLIBERSEK: I do think there is a difference between the Liberal and the Labor Party in this respect. We decided in 1994 that getting more equal representation of men and women in our parliamentary ranks was important to us as an organisation and we have worked since then to the stage where we are at almost 50 per cent of our members being female. We've got twice the number of women in our shadow ministry than the Liberals have got, we've got about twice the number of women in our caucus than the Liberals have got. It makes a difference, it makes a difference. I feel like…having a critical mass of women has changed the culture in the Labor Party and I'm so proud of that because we made a decision as an organisation to be more reflective of the Australian community, I think that's healthier for everyone.

I'd also like to know from Scott Morrison what steps he's taken to address these accusations, he's now got Kelly O'Dwyer, a Cabinet Minister, agreeing that there is a toxic culture of male bullying in the Liberal Party. He's got Julia Banks, one of his most successful MPs winning a marginal seat from the Labor Party, saying that she's resigning after a very short time in Parliament because the culture is too toxic. He's got Lucy Gichuhi who's come in from another political party join the Liberal party, who is now saying that the culture is awful. Scott Morrison is the leader of the Liberal Party, what has he done? Has he rung Julia Banks and said 'Julia I hear that you're leaving because of the bullying, what can I do to help convince you to stay, what do we need to change to make it possible for you to do your job properly?' What steps has Scott Morrison taken to address the culture that his own MPs are saying is a problem? I'd also like to know just incidentally from the Nationals when we can expect any outcome on the Barnaby Joyce sexual harassment inquiry that was launched months ago, that as far as I can tell hasn't had any findings or any action from it in all that intervening time. It does not send a good signal to young women considering a career in politics when you have the Prime Minister brushing off these sorts of criticisms and the National Party seemingly disappearing into a hole when it comes to accusations about behaviour of their own MPs. Bullying shouldn't happen in any Australian work place, sexism shouldn't happen in any Australian workplace. Organisations have to take accusations seriously and investigate them.