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News from 117 Murphy Street - June 27, 2014

Posted June 27, 2014



In response to the Budget Impact Tour, Cathy’s focus was on agricultural education this week, another in Parliament. Having spoken to key people in the education sector and wanting to represent ag students in Indi, Cathy is fighting against the deregulation of university fees. This will deeply impact on ag education and the agricultural sector. Without the latest R&D to continue helping Aussie farmers stay competitive, the $30billion sector will suffer in time. 

According to Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture research into Agricultural education and training in NSW last year, job demand outstripped graduates 5:1 and higher costs will only exacerbate this problem. Fees rising will make it even cheaper for students to study like courses overseas, including the USA and Canada across the Tasman in New Zealand.

Another impact of the changes is the imposition of real time interest rate on HECS loans, especially for women and the inevitable ‘brain drain’ that will occur if the changes are introduced. Cathy believes more post-graduate researchers are needed to fill a shortfall, but the potential 100 per cent proposed increase in fees will create an even greater disincentive for students.

One positive outcome was Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, at Cathy’s suggestion, agreeing to meet with the Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture. This occurred when Cathy asked him in Question Time to meet with the key group of educators who have concerns about the Budget implications.

The Independent Member for Indi got another lesson in expecting the unexpected in Canberra. Dinner with Al Gore and Clive Palmer was an invitation out of the blue on Wednesday evening. This followed Clive’s announcement he would support a repeal of the carbon tax in exchange for an emissions trading scheme to start when other key nations join in a global system. It’s well known Cathy supports a market-based mechanism for driving down emissions. Embracing renewable energy and clean energy technology is a key for the future competitiveness of Indi business and industry.

Cathy also made two 90-second statements. Having attended the Survivors of Suicide and Friends Winter Solstice Community Evening on June 21, she praised the organisers and Stuart and Anne Baker who were instrumental in starting the event, and also local media and young journalists for their ongoing support. Students, teachers and parents from St Joseph’s Primary School in Benalla journeyed to Canberra this week and Cathy acknowledged their visit with a cheerio in Parliament.      

Eager volunteers, father and daughter Ken and Eden Deacon from Yea, joined Meg Quinn in the Canberra office this week to learn how the Australian parliamentary system operates. Along with the busy office duties, they also attended several forums, from industrial to community support.

Next week, Cathy is visiting Rutherglen, Chiltern and Barnawartha on Tuesday for public meetings with constituents. She recently spoke with several major winegrower groups in Canberra and Cathy will meet with vignerons at Lake Moodemere Vineyards during the visit to discuss issues within the industry.  

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