Federal Government Election 2019 - Candidate Statements

Ahead of the Federal Government election on Saturday 18 May 2019,  La Trobe University has written to candidates nominated in electorates adjacent to our campuses at Melbourne (Bundoora), Bendigo, Shepparton, Albury-Wodonga and Mildura to request that they provide a short statement outlining what they will do as a Member of Parliament to help us deliver on our mission (advancing knowledge and learning to shape the future of our students and communities) and vision (to promote positive change and address the major issues of our time through being connected, inclusive and excellent.)

The responses provided by or on behalf of candidates in Melbourne’s North / Regional Victoria are as below. Please note we will continue to update this page as statements are received in the lead up to the election:

Melbourne's North

Dave Blake
Independent Candidate for Melbourne

I live and breathe the life sciences and medical research, through my work as a biotech company analyst. One fantastic company that is associated with La Trobe University is AdAlta, a company working on a new way to treat lung disease. I want La Trobe and Australia’s universities to generate hundreds more life science start-ups like AdAlta. They are this country’s future because they are how we turn inventions into products that grow the wealth of the nation.

These companies need support at many levels, from inception, through incubation in tech parks and then as they mature and fly the coop into the tough world of commercialisation. I would work constructively and enthusiastically to bring industry partners to La Trobe’s innovation precinct. I am interested in showing how Australian universities such as La Trobe can super-charge a start-up culture, by reducing barriers and creating incentives for new company formation.

La Trobe’s focus on sport fits with Australia’s obsession with sport. Sports medicine and exercise physiology research can help Australians wanting to live healthier lives. I would encourage any efforts made by La Trobe to build on specific programs in elite sports to unlock benefits for ordinary Aussies.

La Trobe could also be a foundation research and data health partner in my plan to offer personal training vouchers to every Australian on their 19th birthday, so that they receive proper instruction in the use of gym equipment and exercise planning. A little bit of knowledge delivered earlier in life could make for a lifetime of great health.

In connection with human health, I believe La Trobe is well placed to position itself as a home for my proposed National Institute of Microbiome Research, based on securing $50 million in funding (non-capital). Microbiome research has the potential to deliver orders of magnitude improvements in the diagnosis, treatment and management of a wide range of health conditions and diseases.

La Trobe’s public transport challenges are not trivial. A potential solution for public transport to La Trobe University, but requiring a long-term vision, is to secure support for a rail tunnel under Plenty Rd, through an extension from Thornbury Railway Station.

Ged Kearney MP
Labor candidate for Cooper

I am so proud to have the mighty La Trobe University in the electorate of Cooper. During my first year as the MP for Cooper, I’ve met with La Trobe many times to discuss their University City of the Future plan which will not only transform the university but Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

I’m already working hard to support the university’s plans. An elected Labor government will invest $5 million for nearly 7000 solar panels at La Trobe University. It will fast track La Trobe's plans to be Victoria's first zero emissions uni. Labor is committed to breaking the deadlock of six years of inaction on climate change and delivering a record investment in renewable energy.

Our booming northern suburbs deserve better public transport. If elected, Federal Labor will deliver $40 million for the extension of the Number 11 tram to the end of Gilbert Road in Reservoir. And we’ll invest $15 billion in funding for the Suburban Rail Loop and Melbourne Airport Rail so Dan Andrews can deliver the infrastructure that Victorians deserve.

I attended La Trobe and it changed my life – I want every young person in our community to be able to live a fulfilling life. We will uncap university places, so an extra 1,400 students in Cooper can go to university and an elected Labor government will invest $1 million for an improved nursing simulation lab at La Trobe University.

Every day I hear from people who are struggling to make ends meet, who are working harder, but are not being fairly rewarded for their efforts. Labor has a concrete practical plan to get wages moving again. We will increase the minimum wage, restore penalty rates and address insecure work. Labor will give long-term casuals the right to request permanent employment after 12 months

If re-elected, I’ll continue to work with La Trobe University to support their University City of the Future plan. Together we can turn Cooper’s northern suburbs into the creative, cultural and recreational centre of Melbourne.

Dr Nadine Richings
Animal Justice Party candidate for Cooper

As a La Trobe University Graduate I appreciate the importance of LTU in Cooper and its contribution to Education, Innovation and Research.

The Climate Emergency is an existential threat to humanity and the planet and it is my main focus on a political platform. We must develop and deploy solutions to halt the loss of biodiversity and destruction of habitats and ecosystems and be more sustainable.

I am a Community Leader in the City of Darebin: a Board Member of the Darebin Nature Trust (DNT) and community representative on two reference groups. The DNT is an initiative under Darebin's Climate Emergency Plan and our mission is to conserve and enhance the biodiversity of Darebin.

I would be keen and proud to partner with LTU to protect and enhance the La Trobe Nangak Tamboree. I believe that connecting the community with the natural environment is one of the greatest ways to protect it. Show the community the wonder of the plants, animals, fungi and the connections between species through education and Community Science projects. Once the community understands and respects the nature in their community, they will become its advocates, its champions. Another critical step is to develop powerful, incorruptible environment laws that enshrine the natural world with the importance of human life to truly protect it in a robust legislative framework.

I am also interested in improving public transport networks and connections to LTU and further developing the bicycle paths to not only allow the students and staff to access the campus and surrounds, but also to bring the community into the area. Other issues that would help to combat the Climate Emergency and position La Trobe as a City of the Future include renewable energy and carbon neutrality.

Teresa van Lieshout
Voter Rights Party candidate for Cooper

Regarding La Trobe University, the residents and community groups in the area are my first priority. I can also assure you I will work with you and your staff to create a world-class University, as long as targets towards more (80%+) Australian born students study are pursued, and the communities rights are respected.

Regional Victoria

Cecilia Moar
Independent Candidate for Mallee

Thank you for your letter asking for my policy for higher education in the Mallee electorate, particularly the Mildura campus. I note that over 1128 La Trobe domestic students and staff and 732 alumni are residents (by postcode) of the Mallee electorate. Each student trained in health, nursing, teaching and business jobs provides new skills, new jobs, innovation and economic development across regional Victoria which substantially contributes to the prosperity of communities across the Mallee.

If elected, I plan to apply a ‘new way of doing politics’ in the Mallee, which is consultative and collaborative. I will work strategically with La Trobe University to use my skills in networking, negotiation and achieving practical outcomes for local people. By being connected, inclusive and excellent, together we can advance knowledge and learn to shape the future of the students and communities of the electorate. Our combined efforts can include the vision to promote positive change and address the major issues of our time.

I am the beneficiary of two higher education degrees, one later in life. My children have all attained university qualifications and work as professionals in medicine, teaching, engineering, law and social enterprise. My grandmother was the sole educated woman in the Terrappee/Wychitella area in the 1930s. I value tertiary education highly and will work together to partner with business and industry to achieve outcomes.

I am keen to encourage and facilitate greater collaboration between university and TAFE sectors to enable the development of innovative, integrated pathways to attract and retain the best and brightest students in the Mallee electorate. I will do my part to encourage targeted investment in essential teaching, learning and research infrastructure to meet the growing need for student participation and attainment in regional Victoria.

Leigh Firman
Science Party candidate for Mallee

The Science Party is not just a name and we wish to bring Australians the best possible proven science to make life easier for everyone.

We are strong believers in teaching the STEM subjects in our schools; so Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. We can see clearly that the breakthroughs to come will need a strong knowledge in these subjects.

Looking at a very few of the areas we are heading into globally, such as AI, robotics, space sciences, aeronautics, medical research, gemmotherapy, nuclear fusion and many differing branches of engineering, then it becomes obvious why we need skills in these high sciences.

Working with your government and industry partners, there should be an avenue for TAFE institutions to continue the above subjects and others in a research and practical hands-on capacity for those students wanting an extra step toward their professional career.

The Science Party, without wishing in any way to denigrate the efforts of your good selves, would be in favour of importing lecturers in any subject where we do not have the expertise, to assist our young people and indeed La Trobe University, to have the cutting-edge teachers on these subjects, so that our students are getting the best possible outcomes and indeed will lead the world in these areas.

Nicole Rowan
Greens candidate for Mallee

The Greens’ transformative plan to make TAFE and university free, increase funding to universities and expand financial support for students will forever change how we think about education.

  • The Greens will fund unlimited free undergraduate university and TAFE. Free higher education, whether it’s university or TAFE, will give everybody a fair go, break the cycle of disadvantage and guarantee access.
  • We will increase funding per-Commonwealth Supported Place student by 10 percent and end the Commonwealth funding freeze. This will deliver more to universities over the next ten years to improve learning and teaching conditions, reduce class sizes and enable researchers to pursue solutions to the big problems of our time.
  • The Greens will deliver immediate savings to Australians with study debts by raising and indexing the repayment threshold for HELP, SSL, ABSTUDY SSL, TSL and SFSS debts to the median wage of $52,880 from 2019.
  • The Greens will ensure universities are held accountable by working with staff and their unions to link funding under the Commonwealth Grant Scheme to reductions in the rate of insecure work in universities.
  • The Greens will raise Youth Allowance by $75 a week and change the eligibility criteria so more students can access the payment. We will extend Austudy payments to all full-time postgraduate students at a cost of $5.72bn over ten years to ensure that young researchers, teachers and students seeking advanced education have the income support they need to flourish.

The Coalition has politicised higher education and made providers compete for funding favours, eroded their independence and questioned their decision-making. This ideological approach has prevented cooperation and collaboration. It has stymied creativity and important research innovation.

Under the Greens’ fully costed plan, universities will be free to focus on delivering excellence in teaching, learning and research and to working in partnership with other providers, businesses and the wider community.

Rick Grosvenor
Conservative National Party Candidate for Mallee

As a proud father of a LaTrobe University graduate, I fully support the work the University has been undertaking to further collaborative philosophies between stakeholders.

Fostering and nurturing these relationships ensures that all segments of the community work closely together to bring about the best outcomes for not only the future employers, but also to provide the students with employment opportunities in the greater region. I would like to provide tax incentives for businesses to relocate to regional areas in order to attract and retain the best and brightest, rather than the current exodus of many of our young people to the cities in search of employment opportunities.

Moving forward, I would like to expand the current collaborative partnerships to include secondary schools, Registered Training Organisations and LLEN’s throughout the Mallee. Although there are many students who have decided on their career path and are confident in applying for the university course of their choice, there are also quite a number of senior secondary students for whom an alternative pathway to university may be attractive. Inclusivity of the opportunity for tertiary education for all interested individuals should be a priority.

For some degrees, there is the option of starting at a Certificate level course, potentially as a school-based apprentice or trainee (such as Business), who would then have the option of continuing their studies if they discover their desire to progress within the field to a Bachelor Degree or even higher. I realise this is not possible with some courses, such as Education.

I would take great pleasure in becoming a stakeholder and being involved in the cultivation of innovative ideas as your local elected Member of Parliament.

Adam Veitch
United Australia Party candidate for Bendigo

For proper funding and support for all levels of education the parliament needs to create an environment where education has appropriate funding and a secure future for not just the schools and universities but for affordable realistic options for Australian people.

With changes in government we see funding increased then decreased, the uncertainty from election to election on the future of our educational prospects creates an uncertainty for current and future generations and the prosperity of the country into the future.

To truly compete with the rest of the world we need to get this right.

Proper funding of education and services needs a functioning robust appropriate economy. Hard to fund the country’s needs when the economy is not providing enough revenue for the government to spend on expected essential services across the board whilst allowing community expectations to be met. This needs to be addressed so current and future generations can compete globally and domestically and provide the community with professional services and support.

We need to go back to basics and get them right, education and the opportunities it creates is a very important part of our country and its future and by creating a solid economy this allows for proper funding and a solid base to grow our country for the future this is paramount.

This needs to be addressed before we can seriously move forward as a country.

More government revenue creates better funding, greater opportunity and a brighter future for the country, and its citizens allowing us to create more options in emerging and existing industries giving people the opportunity to be apart and contribute to a better future for the people and the country.

Lisa Chesters MP
Australian Labor Party candidate for Bendigo

I have worked closely with La Trobe University over the past 6 years and am proud of the commitments Labor has made to higher education. Labor will take strong action to ensure city kids and country kids have the same opportunity to get a uni education. That’s why we are committing $3.2 million for programs that work with students in country areas to encourage them go to uni or TAFE. Labor will also appoint a dedicated Regional and Remote Commissioner to advise our once in a generation National Inquiry into Post-secondary Education.

As part of Labor’s $174 million commitment to improving equity in higher education, a Shorten Labor Government would allocate $3.45 million for programs to address the drop-out rate in regional Victoria and north Melbourne. The initiatives, which would be run by La Trobe University, include running mentoring programs, wellbeing workshops and providing financial assistance for disadvantaged students.

Regional Victoria – along with northern Melbourne – will also benefit from a mentoring program where uni students work with teachers on a range of different subject areas in disadvantaged schools. There is also a focus on improving secondary students’ retention rates and aspiration levels. Students will be supported through introduction days, mentor programs, wellbeing workshops, activities to build academic skills and parent engagement workshops.

Country kids were big winners when the former Labor Government uncapped uni places back in 2009. Enrolments of students from country areas jumped by 48 per cent. If Labor form Government again, we will restore funding to universities and uncap places, providing out nation with more than 200,000 university graduates.

I am also proud that a Labor Government will commit $2million to the La Trobe Rural Road Trauma Research Hub in Bendigo. Road safety and the ongoing cost of care for those who are injured is an issue that is often raised with me. The Rural Road Trauma Research Hub would combine research expertise from across La Trobe’s Bendigo campus, including in rural health, psychology, pharmacy, engineering, planning, education and law.

Labor will always support more funding to help people in regional and remote Australia get the chance of a uni degree. My vision for La Trobe Bendigo is for it to be a thriving and active campus. Let’s get back to the days when the campus was buzzing every day.

Sam Gayed
Liberal Party candidate for Bendigo

Under the Coalition, university and research funding has grown by nearly 20 per cent. Today, funding for universities is a record $17.7 billion, growing to $19.1 billion by 2022. And our investment in La Trobe University is at a record $481.5 million in 2019, up more than $100m since 2012.

We believe that you should be able to attend university whether you are from a regional community or from a capital city. Yet compared to those who grow up in cities, young Australians from regional areas are around half as likely to have a university qualification or higher-level VET qualification by their mid-twenties.

That is why the Coalition has invested over $490 million to ensure students can attend university no matter where they live. We have done this through a range of measures since the last election, including through 3,155 Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships, which provide support to students with the costs of studying at university or at a vocational education and training provider.

We have also introduced up to 4,720 new tertiary scholarships to attract Australian and international students to study in regional Australia.

We know that the cost of moving to study is often a burden on rural and regional students. This is why we have created Regional Study Hubs in 22 locations, which will allow regional students to study in communities near them.

The Coalition has a strong track record supporting regional students. In 2016 we invested $152 million to a Regional Student Access to Education Package, improved access to Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY living allowance for regional and remote students, and more support for isolated children’s education.

And if we are re-elected we will continue to do more for regional Australia by committing a further $15 million to create 5 more Regional Study Hubs with additional Commonwealth Supported Places to ensure their ongoing viability.

We also know that rural and regional students need more support to complete school and aspire to further education. That is why a re-elected Morrison Government will commit $2 million to expand the Country Education Partnership’s successful Rural Inspire program.

We will also implement the findings of the Napthine Review into Rural, Regional and Remote Education. This will develop a Rural, Regional and Remote Education Strategy for the first time in Australia.

And all of this builds on the Coalition’s ongoing commitments, with more than $1.6 billion in base funding in 2017 for Commonwealth supported students at regionally headquartered universities and $70 million each year in regional loading to help universities maintain regional campuses.