THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
SHARON BIRD MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION
MEMBER FOR CUNNINGHAM
THURSDAY, 2 JUNE 2016
SUBJECTS: Labor's Positive Plans for Vocational Training; Liberals' cuts to TAFE
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY FEDERAL LABOR LEADER: Well thank you very much for coming out to Sydney TAFE. I'm really pleased to be here with my friend and colleague Sharon Bird, and I'll handover to Sharon in a moment to talk about the TAFE and apprenticeship system across Australia. I want to make a few comments about what we're facing here locally. We are very, very fortunate to have a fantastic institute right here. It serves thousands of students, many thousands of students every year. But disappointingly, we've seen cuts affecting Sydney TAFE, just as we have right around Australia. The Sydney Institute here in Ultimo provides world-leading courses and it is a shocking shame to think of any downgrading of the teaching and other services that it's able to provide its students. What we've seen locally is cuts of almost 2,800 apprentices - lost. This is part of the 122,000 apprentices that have been lost around Australia and this is a real concern. Obviously, there’s those 2,800 young people who miss out on an opportunity of getting a great job that will support them and their families in years to come but it also makes no sense for the Australian economy. We know, no matter how much the Prime Minister's talking about innovation and app design and all the rest of it, Australia will always need electricians, builders, carpenters, mechanics, hairdressers, caterers. And we need to continue to invest, of course, in the jobs of the future, but also jobs with a future. That means a proper vocational education system that serves our young people as they are leaving school and also Australian workers who are training and retraining through the course of their lives. Thanks Sharon.
SHARON BIRD, SHADOW MINISTER FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION: Thanks Tanya and thanks so much for the invitation to join you here at Sydney TAFE today. Labor has been campaigning on TAFE for the whole time we have been in opposition. And we have been doing that because quite simply we understand that for a real pathway that combines work and a qualification, we've already got a great system in place - it's called the Australian Apprenticeship System and it provides a pathway for people, both young people out of school, and as Tanya said, people whose industries have been restructured, people who are looking to re-enter the workforce, an opportunity to get a really good start to that new career. Now sadly what we've seen is over $1 billion cut by the Abbott and Turnbull governments out of apprenticeship support and that has resulted nationally in the loss of 122,000 apprentices in training. It's around about a quarter of all apprentices have been lost and we are determined to put this on the agenda because if the Government wants to talk about jobs and growth it cannot ignore the really important industry sectors that these industries and these apprenticeships support. On top of that we've made a TAFE funding guarantee. We understand, like Tanya's wonderful Sydney TAFE Institute here, that TAFE is a worldwide quality deliverer of vocational education. In fact, people come from all around the world to study how we do vocational education, to look at our TAFE system and to look at our apprenticeship system. And this government has done nothing but treat it like a piggybank. Every single budget, every single MYEFO, they have cut and cut and cut out of this sector - $2.75 billion cut out of the skills portfolio with no new initiatives in order to invest and grow this sector. So it is really, really important in this election that we have the opportunity like we have today t o talk to people directly about Labor's commitment to TAFE and our commitment to apprenticeships as a solid pathway for people into work. So I'm thrilled to be here with Tanya today. I've been all around the country talking to people about these issues and we will continue to do that right up to the election. I know communities value their TAFE and I know they value their apprenticeship system and we will continue to raise the fact that this government has failed so abysmally on those, both of those, important contributors to real jobs and growth.