June 27, 2018

When this government attacks TAFE, the pain is felt disproportionately in the Hawkesbury. Twenty-seven per cent of people in the Hawkesbury have a TAFE qualification—that's almost double the rate of Greater Sydney.

TAFE is part of who we are. Richmond TAFE, including its horticulture, animal and equine courses, is a cornerstone of the Hawkesbury. Many of our children aspire to master their vocation, to be self-employed, to employ other up-and-coming masters of their trades and to train up apprentices.

TAFE forms a backbone of our local economy and its importance should not be underestimated.

But the Turnbull government really couldn't care less. The Liberals' record on vocational education is abysmal, with cuts of more than $3 billion from skills and apprenticeships.

The contrast between Labor and Liberals when it comes to TAFE could not be starker. They wasted $24.1 million on a disastrous and now abandoned five-year apprenticeship IT system upgrade, and they are now required to spend another million-plus just to maintain the current capability of the original 1999 system.

Apprenticeships have continued to decline. Labor care about TAFE. We want to invest in it. We want to build it up. We value the role it plays in our communities.

We'll scrap up-front fees for 100,000 TAFE students learning trades that Australia desperately needs. We'll invest $100 million in modernising TAFE facilities. We'll guarantee that at least two out of every three Commonwealth training dollars go to TAFE and make sure one in 10 jobs on Commonwealth priority projects are filled by Australian apprentices.

We'll provide 10,000 pre-apprentice programs for young people who want to learn a trade, and we'll provide 20,000 adult apprentice programs for older workers to retrain. We choose not to give money to the bankers and big businesses at the top end of town. We choose to invest in TAFE, to invest in education, to invest in skills and training.