SUBJECT: Albanese Government’s $50 million commitment to new CQUniversity Cairns campus.
MURRAY JONES, HOST: I don’t usually talk to ministers in a phone booth, but this is a great opportunity. We do have 50 million up for grabs. Brand new Minister for Education with very shiny shoes here. Jason Clare, welcome to Cairns.
JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: G’day mate. It’s a very sunny day, it’s a fantastic day.
JONES: Beautiful, beautiful morning to be here. Exciting confirmation of the $50 million that was promised very early in the election for CQU, right beside me here at work. I’m a bit concerned about the seven stories. I might lose my view, Jason.
CLARE: Well, you’re going to get more than just a view here. You’re going to get thousands and thousands of extra students and locals studying here at a local university. It’ll transform the town.
The economic impact of having thousands more students here in town will be phenomenal, but it will also transform the lives of lots of locals who leave school, and sometimes go to study down in Brisbane or Sydney or Melbourne, never come back. We're going to be training up teachers and nurses, allied health professionals, engineers, for the jobs that we need to fill here right now.
JONES: And particularly for regional areas, because the leak of people who are not going to university in regional areas, probably because of the old tyranny of distance, so having these opportunities right here in Cairns for the whole region right up to the gulf, right through Cape York, this is going to be a great opportunity.
CLARE: It’s a game changer. Think about it: 40 per cent of people between 25 and 34 in Australia have a uni degree. But in places like Cairns, it’s about 20 per cent.
CLARE: Now, most of the jobs being created right now require a uni degree or a TAFE qualification. So, we’ve got to make sure that Aussies, wherever they live, whether it’s in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, or whether it’s in Cairns or Townsville or Port Hedland over in WA, there’ll be help to make sure that more Australians get that TAFE qualification or that uni degree.
And so you’ve got to make sure that you’ve got the campuses and the courses where people live and where they want to study. Now, I sincerely believe a campus like this, when it’s up and running, is going to encourage more young people at high school today to come and study here.
I saw some kids that were walking through the current campus here at CQU this morning. They’re getting exposed to university and what it looks like for the first time. Some of them will be the first people in their family to ever go to uni. It’s going to make it a lot easier to make that big jump from school to uni if the university is down the road, not at the other end of the country.
JONES: And also dealing with the skills shortage, obviously a big change just in the workforce since the pandemic, so that’s really advantageous as well. But also economically. Obviously, having those people here in town, having the teachers, not just having the qualifications that they will get, but also opportunities economically even for accommodation for students.
CLARE: Well, that’s right. The economic analysis is if you put $50 million in to build this campus, and it will create $50 million of economic benefit every year after that for the next ten years. Now, we’re going to need more student accommodation but if you’ve got a campus here with thousands of students, then that will follow. There’ll be projects that will happen that wouldn’t have happened otherwise because you’ve got more people here. You’ll transform life here in the local community, we’ll need more coffee shops, more cafes, more places that young people will want to hang out at. It transforms life here in the local area. And the economic benefits will be enormous. What’s even more important than that is it changes people’s lives. And it can change people’s lives forever.
JONES: So much opportunity. Aviation, the whole lot. We’re so glad that this 50 million has stayed in the back pocket despite us meeting in a phone booth this morning. Jason Clare, Federal Minister for Education, thank you so much for your time.
CLARE: Good on you mate. Great to be here.