SUBJECTS: Labor’s investment in advanced manufacturing at the University of Tasmania; Federal election.

MARTIN AGATYN, PRESENTER: The reason you're on the north west coast today is you’ve announced that if Labor wins the next Federal election in May that you'll put a $5 million world-class equipment manufacturing hub into West Park in Burnie where the University of Tasmania also has their campus. It's going to train around 60 students a year, all to do with preparing them in equipment design and manufacture as well. So it's probably something that’s been needed for a while around here?
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Yes, absolutely. This would be a place where students from the university, but also from TAFE and local high schools, can get really hands-on experience at designing and building equipment. Now we know, for example, that there's a lot of businesses that support, on the north coast and the north west coast, support manufacturing of say, agricultural equipment, or construction equipment and so on. What we want to see is local businesses giving opportunities to students to solve problems in their businesses. To come up with new pieces of equipment that can then be manufactured and exported to the world. This will be a really great opportunity for kids to get a degree or an associate degree in equipment design and technology or move into a bachelor of advanced manufacturing and design if they want to keep up their studies. And it's a great opportunity for local businesses to work with the university to create, invent, solve problems, and then export to the world.
AGATYN: Is this the first of its type in Australia or is this a model that's been used successfully elsewhere?
PLIBERSEK: Look I haven't seen anything quite like this around Australia and there are other universities that are focussing on elements of design and engineering and manufacturing but this is a very hands-on approach, it's got a very strong emphasis on working with local businesses to make sure that we're training young people for the jobs of the future, giving them opportunities that will keep them here on the north west coast of Tasmania and also really provide opportunities for those businesses to export to the world as well. This really is a unique combination of all of those elements.
AGATYN: Tanya, why are we doing this? We've had the model of apprenticeships and traineeships for over 100 years. Is that not working anymore these days? Do we need to look at other ways of getting people trained?
PLIBERSEK: Look we've seen, just in the last few years, a big drop in the number of apprentices and trainees and that's something that really worries me a great deal because we know that we've got skills shortages in some areas, we've got high youth unemployment in other areas, we've got older workers losing their jobs and not having the opportunity to retrain for other work. We really want to see these hands-on learning opportunities, like the one the University of Tasmania will be offering, because that traditional approach that you're talking about, apprentices and trainees, that is a really good approach for a lot of people. It's a really good thing to be giving people that hands-on experience rather than telling school leavers that the only opportunity they've got is sitting in a classroom until they finish high school and then sitting in another classroom at university. This is practical problem solving. These are skills that are needed in our workplaces - employers are telling us that they need workers trained in these sorts of advanced manufacturing jobs and in designing the equipment. Let's make sure we actually use that industry partnership and that hands-on learning to train our young people for these emerging jobs.
AGATYN: So will there be an opportunity for businesses say, for example, to get involved in scholarships maybe?
PLIBERSEK: Oh absolutely. We always love to have businesses involved in providing scholarships. But the best thing that businesses can do is really work with the university and with local TAFE to bring problems to the universities to solve, to say to the students "look, using all the skills that you're learning, how would you go about creating this new piece of equipment that we need? How would you?" And then the next steps as well. "How do you market this?" It's a really good way of giving students the real world experience they need before they get into the workplace.
AGATYN: OK and this is all subject to the election of course, so if you win government, when will we see this plan implemented? Is it a long term plan or is it something that would happen next year, for example?
PLIBERSEK: Yeah, if we win, the money is on the table and we would see the funding flow for the new building in 2020. 2021 is when they expect the new facility to open, if the university expects to open in 2021 if they get this funding from us if we're elected at the next election.
AGATYN: OK now of the subject of the election, yesterday the Real Estate Institute of Australia released results of a study they've done on your policy, opposition policy, on negative gearing, and what they've said basically is that it's going to hurt more people than it will help. What's your thoughts on that?
PLIBERSEK: Well they've studied someone's policies but it's not Labor's. We've had a lot of people, lot of vested interests who are complaining about the fact that we're changing support for people buying their seventh home, their tenth, their thirtieth investment property. We don't make any apologies for that. We say that it's important that young first home buyers are playing on a level playing field and that we can't afford to keep subsidising people to buy their thirtieth investment property while young first home buyers are really struggling to get into the market.
AGATYN: OK now during the election campaign no doubt you'll be telling us all the things you're going to do if you win government, but I guess the other side of that of course is that you have to listen.
PLIBERSEK: Oh absolutely. That's why I love coming to Burnie and to Devonport, and to all these beautiful towns that you've got on the north west coast and the north coast because truly it is such a beautiful place to visit and the opportunity talk to people about the struggles they've got, the prices of healthcare going up, the price of childcare going up, their power bills going up, but their wages flatlining and work becoming less secure, not knowing from week to week what you're going to be earning the next week, penalty rates going. It's so important to hear first hand how people are struggling with that.
AGATYN: What's your gut feel on when you think the election may be called? I mean, it's up to the Prime Minister as we know, but a couple of dates have been thrown around, is May 11 or 18?
PLIBERSEK: Yeah, look if I was a betting person I'd go for May the 11th. It could be the 18th, it could be the two most likely dates, but my money at the moment is May the 11th.
AGATYN: How ready are you? Your side - how are you?
PLIBERSEK: I'm so ready. We just can't wait. We think the country has suffered long enough. We really think that the Liberals have been at each other’s throats, they've been focused only on themselves, like just today there's another power policy coming out. This is now the Liberals' 13th power policy, energy policy, and they've got prices going up and pollution going up. People just want an opportunity to send a message, I think, to Scott Morrison and the Liberals to focus on what they need, instead of, Scott Morrison, half his people have gone to take jobs in the private sector or on $200,000 a year at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal or off overseas to take diplomatic posts. This government should be focused on the needs of ordinary Australians instead of focusing so much on themselves and their own infighting.
AGATYN: Tanya, look forward to catching up with you again during the campaign but thanks for your time this afternoon. I really appreciate it. Enjoy the rest of your day on the north west coast.
PLIBERSEK: It's always a pleasure to talk to you and I've got to say, on a day like this, being up on the north west coast, there's really nowhere better on earth, is there?
AGATYN: You picked the right day because it was really cold yesterday.
PLIBERSEK: A beautiful day.
AGATYN: Good on you. Thanks for your time.
PLIBERSEK: Thanks Martin. See you. Bye bye.

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