SUBJECT: Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts to TAFE and vocational education.

JO BRISKEY: Hi my name is Jo Briskey, I am Labor's candidate contesting the marginal seat of Bonner in which we are just on the border here between Griffith and Bonner. Really great to have Tanya here today, having a tour of the facilities, the wonderful facilities here at this TAFE. And look, I've been advocating on behalf of Australian parents for the last five years now and something that is really concerning to parents is having the sense that their kids can get the skills that they need, the training that they need to get the jobs that they need in the future and I think there's a real risk at the moment and there are a lot of kids missing out simply because they can't afford it - because there's been so much cut out of our TAFE system at the moment, so that's really concerning - so it's great to have Tanya here to talk about what Labor would do if we were elected to help reinvest in our TAFE sector here in Queensland and in particular for our families from Bonner.

TERRI BUTLER MP: I'm Terri Butler, I'm the Federal Member for Griffith. This TAFE is just inside Griffith and as Jo says it is on the boundary of Bonner and Moreton as well. Three south side seats where Australian parents and Australian families are worried about their kids’ future and what the skills will be that they will need for the jobs of the future. Right here at this amazing facility we have today seen advanced manufacturing work being done, students in creative industries looking to the future and getting the skills that they will need, and those students have been telling us how hard it is to get a good vocational education when there has been so much money cut out of TAFE and vocational education. At the same time I know because I've seen our statistics that in my own electorate of Griffith, just like in Bonner, there has been a 40 percent decrease in apprenticeships and traineeships since this Coalition Government came to power. That's why it's so great to be working with Tanya and of course with Shannon as the state minister to see what we can do to really improve vocational education and access to vocational education.

SHANNON FENTIMAN MP: Well thank you, fantastic to tour the Mount Gravatt TAFE here today with Tanya Plibersek, Terri Butler and Jo Briskey to look at what more we can be doing to strengthen TAFE's position and also get more people into training in our vocational education sector. The vocational education sector here in Queensland took a massive hit under Campbell Newman and the LNP and of course since we've come to Government with our rescuing TAFE package and our recent election commitment of $85 million for TAFE campuses, we are doing what we can to get even more people into traineeships and apprenticeships here in Queensland. But Malcolm Turnbull is making it tough at a federal level. The Premier has written to Malcolm Turnbull demanding some policy certainty and funding in this area for Queensland families. Currently we are facing a $40 million cut to Queensland’s training budget thanks to Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal National Party. $40 million - that means over 4,000 apprentices and trainees will not get the funding they need and that’s over 2,000 apprentices and trainees just in the south east alone - so at a time when we know we are looking to face a skills shortage, not a job shortage, it beggars belief that Malcolm Turnbull is cutting Queensland's training budget by $40 million, so it's wonderful to have Tanya Plibersek here to talk about Labor's strong policy in reinvesting in vocational education and training and reinvesting in our TAFEs.

TANYA PLIBERSEK MP: Thanks very much, it's great to be here with Shannon Fentiman, with Terri Butler and with Jo Briskey at the Mount Gravatt TAFE, we've had a fantastic tour today particularly looking at the work of the fashion students - they're very committed to their studies but they told us how difficult it is to find some of the money they have to find to supplement what the Federal Government is prepared to pay in terms of the cost of their courses. Now Shannon's quite right, during the Campbell Newman years Queensland TAFE came under enormous pressure with millions of dollars of budget cuts and thousands of staff losing their jobs. Annastacia Palaszczuk has done what she can to restore that funding, to rebuild TAFE, to reinvest to see better facilities and more students and more staff, but it's pretty hard when you've got the Queensland Government improving access to TAFE at the same time as the Federal Government is cutting funding, it doesn't make any sense for Queensland to be investing more and trying harder while Malcolm Turnbull is cutting funding to the very same institutions. Now Malcolm Turnbull since coming to Government, he and the previous Abbott Government have cut $3 billion from TAFE and vocational education, that means that there's about 140,000 fewer apprentices today than when Labor left office. There's about 160,000 fewer students at TAFE than there was over the 2010-2013 period. There are cuts all around and the impact of that of course will be seen in students who don't get an education and jobs, skilled jobs, that aren't filled in the future as we see shortages of skilled workers. Now those cuts to TAFE go alongside cuts to schools and cuts to universities - so we are seeing right through early childhood, school, TAFE, apprenticeships and university education, cuts all round from the Liberals in Canberra. Labor in contrast has the plan to reinvest - we've already said that we would spend well over $700 million more in TAFE and vocational education right around Australia, giving more Australians the opportunity of a vocational education, a first quality vocational education. We've got the Federal Budget in a couple of weeks and this is really the opportunity for the Federal Liberal Government to reverse its decision to cut funding to TAFE, to cut funding to universities and to schools, and to commit to reinvesting in critical education funding for Australia. They've got a choice to make, they can persist with their $65 billion worth of big business tax cuts, most of which flows to overseas shareholders. As we know now about 1 in 4 dollars of those $65 billion worth of big business tax cuts will end up flowing to the banks, like they need a bigger budget bottom line given the evidence that we have seen coming out of the Banking Royal Commission. We've got a real choice ahead of us as Australians, do we properly invest in our people, in their education or do we persist with this mad plan to give big business tax cuts in the hope that somewhere down the track that will lead to increased jobs and productivity. Malcolm Turnbull has a choice and he should make the right choice for Australia which is investing in education. We heard from the Mitchell Institute just overnight that if we persist with these current cuts, by 2031 490,000 fewer Australians will have a TAFE qualification or a university qualification. That is just madness when we know that the jobs being created today, almost universally, require a TAFE or university education to be able to do them - so let's get our priorities right, let’s dump the big business tax cut and invest properly in our people. Any questions?

JOURNALIST: Where are these people that aren't going to TAFE? Where are they ending up, are they on the streets? Are they in poorer paying jobs? What's going on with them?

PLIBERSEK: We saw a recent study that said of close to a million jobs that will be created in coming years, 400,000 odd of them will need a TAFE education, 400,000 odd will need a university education, only 70,000 of them won't require a post-secondary school education, so if people are missing out on TAFE and university, they're much more likely to be sitting on the dole queue or they're more likely to be in a lower paid, less secure job. That doesn't make any sense when we've got skilled jobs crying out for skilled workers to do them. We continue to see debate, just this weekend we saw another debate about introducing a special category of visa for farm workers because we don't have enough skilled farm workers in Australia, how nuts is it that we are talking about importing more skilled workers at a time when we continue to see high unemployment in some areas but particularly in regional areas and particularly amongst young people - getting people a great education means a lifetime of opportunity, it means higher wages, more secure employment and more stable society that comes with that.

JOURNALIST: Minister Fentiman, do you think some people might undervalue TAFE? We have seen some great skills and a lot of stuff going on, what's the branding of TAFE like in Queensland?

FENTIMAN: I have to say with the businesses and industry leaders that I meet, TAFE is held in incredibly high regard. TAFE is, I think, seen by industry as the quality, premier provider - but TAFE has done it hard as Tanya Plibersek has said, thousands, over 2,000 teachers were sacked from TAFE during Campbell Newman's time in office and policy uncertainty at a federal level from Malcolm Turnbull has made things really hard for TAFE. TAFE is doing an exceptional job but it's up against it, we are providing millions of dollars in capital infrastructure to make sure that TAFE students have the very best technology and equipment to get a first class education but with the funding cuts and uncertainty at a federal level it makes things very hard for TAFE right across the board.

JOURNALIST: Tanya, just quickly the government says it wants institutions to be more accountable with its money before they hand it over, do you agree?

PLIBERSEK: Are you talking about vocational education providers?

JOURNALIST: Well both vocational education and university education, I think those comments might have specifically related to universities but TAFE as well.

PLIBERSEK: I think the Government and the Education Minister in particular spend their life finding excuses for the fact that they are cutting funding. So they're cutting $17 billion from schools, and just before Christmas they cut $2.2 billion from universities, and as I've said they've cut about $3 billion from vocational education and training. Now there's all sorts of excuses trotted out for those cuts and I would say that our education system here, particularly our public providers are highly accountable and provide an excellent service - now you go to our universities, they are world class on any measure - on their research, on their student experience, they are world class and consequently they are one of our biggest exporter earners. TAFE is the same, our TAFE system is traditionally- has been looked at by countries all around the world as a world leading provider of training and vocational education. What's happened in recent years are billions of dollars of cuts undermining provision in the TAFE sector and a Government keen to point the finger at anybody other than taking responsibility for the cuts and the way that they are impacting in TAFE right across Australia. Thanks.