Commonwealth Budget: Labor Opposition Response

Background

Following last night’s release of the Joyce VET Review and the Government’s announcements in response, the Labor Shadow Minister for Skills, TAFE and Apprenticeships, Senator Doug Cameron, has issued a colourful response (below).

The Labor Opposition Response

The Liberals cynical pea and thimble trick with vocational education funding locks in their $3 billion cut to the sector.

Tonight’s Budget confirms the Government’s ever diminishing Skilling Australians Fund has been cut by a further $649 million. According to the Budget papers, the 300,000 projected apprentices and trainees the Fund was originally slated to deliver has now been cut to just 80,000.

Josh Frydenberg’s claim that he is increasing vocational education funding is nothing more than a cynical and desperate exercise to cover their cuts. The reality is the Government has done absolutely nothing to address the 140,000 decline in apprenticeships or the 24.5% drop in TAFE enrolments on their watch.

While Victoria and Queensland have been completely written out of the Skilling Australians Fund, the other jurisdictions who signed on have had their allocations dramatically cut. From the previous Budget, New South Wales loses $50.1 million, Western Australia loses $16 million, South Australia loses $10.6 million, the Australian Capital Territory loses $2.6 million and the Northern Territory loses $1.4 million.

This is a breach of good faith by a desperate, divided and dysfunctional Government. This type of treachery will have long term implications for the productive performance of the Australian economy.

Tonight’s Budget does not address TAFE courses and campuses closing or teachers losing their jobs. This Government simply cannot be trusted to develop and support a modern, effective vocational education system.

Only Labor has the policies to increase the capacity of the vocational education system and the skills of the Australian workforce. If elected, a Shorten Labor government will guarantee at least two out of three public vocational education dollars go to TAFE.

Labor will deliver a fair go for VET students by:

  • waiving upfront fees for 100,000 students to attend TAFE
  • investing $100 million in modernising TAFE facilities around the country
  • ensuring one in every 10 jobs on Commonwealth priority projects are filled by Australian apprentices
  • providing 10,000 pre-apprenticeships for young people wanting to learn a trade
  • providing 20,000 advanced entry apprenticeships for older workers to retrain
  • appointing an Apprenticeship Advocate to ensure quality and protect apprentices

Labor will also conduct a once in a generation inquiry into the post-secondary education system to identify and fix the problems created by the Liberals.

CCA Comment

Senator Cameron’s response re-states Labor previously announced policies: read Senator Cameron’s speeches to the TAFE and ACPET conferences last year for details. CCA welcomes the commitment to increased VET funding, and proper support for TAFE – although not at the expense of community providers.: the response makes no mention of Australia’s highly efficient not-for-profit community education providers. Our sector continues to supply VET to almost 10% of VET students each year nationally, but our impact and contribution seem to be consistently ignored by all political parties.

CCA expects the Federal election to be called shortly. Following that, CCA will ask all major political parties to make statements about their policies on not-for-profit community education providers, not only in accredited VET, but also non-accredited and other education services.

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