Both One Nation NSW and the Christian Democratic Party are likely to gain seats in the Upper House (Legislative Council) of the next NSW Parliament. This post summarises their relevant positions on vocational education and training.
ONE NATION NSW POLICIES
One Nation NSW has published 30 separate policies in preparation for the upcoming state election. The introduction to the policies notes that One Nation NSW (and upper house candidate) Mark Latham has lived in Western Sydney for more than 50 years and is “a lifelong supporter of public education”.
One Nation NSW has put forward a detailed policy on TAFE, although there is no specific mention of not-for-profit community providers. The following provides extracts from the policy.
The NSW skills market is upside down. The Federal Government has over-invested in university places and the State Government has under-invested in TAFE, creating technical and trade skill shortages that are being filled by migrants (permanent and temporary).
TAFE needs urgent repair, having lost its core functions as a high-quality training provider. The sector has been plagued by funding cuts, senior management instability, falling enrolments, IT system failures, staff casualisation and declining standards and results. TAFE has lost more than one-third of its staff between 2010 and 2016.
The “marketisation” of TAFE has produced the wrong financial incentives. Student completion rates have become a higher priority than quality instruction and the development of sophisticated workforce skills. Three-quarters of TAFE staff are non-permanent, meaning that teachers are easily dispensable.
One Nation wants to give NSW TAFE a role and status in skill development no less prestigious than the university system. It needs to be developed as an attractive alternative to higher education, especially given the growing importance of trades in the NSW economy. The crisis in TAFE needs to be turned around urgently, with a new funding model for the sector. One Nation NSW supports:
- The 2018 NSW State Budget initiative funding 100,000 fee-free apprenticeships in NSW over the next four years.
- The $60 million (national) Regional Australia Apprenticeship Program, with 1600 new apprenticeship positions.
- NSW Labor’s commitment for 70 percent of VET money to go to TAFE, with the remaining 30% allocated to a contestable market.
Other One Nation policy positions are to:
- Increase the proportion of permanent TAFE teaching positions so they can concentrate on quality instruction rather than student throughput.
- Shift TAFE funding from student-based to performance-based financing, thereby rewarding colleges and courses that maximise the number of students finding jobs, measuring and reporting on how TAFE succeeds in getting students into employment and making the system more responsive to the needs of business.
- Undertake a concerted crackdown on dodgy private training providers in NSW.
CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY POLICIES
The Party’s principles include commitments to:
- foster the principles of government accountability and responsibility, and active citizen participation in a social compact;
- advance the cause of social justice for all: the under-privileged, the unemployed, the handicapped, the elderly, the displaced;
- expect a high standard of education, social and medical care for all Australians, urban or rural; and
- promote decentralisation to create more sustainable jobs.
The Party’s National Charter states that “political decisions should be made on most local level, so that the interests of the local community affected are properly represented,” and all policies, especially moral, social and economic policies, need to be assessed as to how they will finally affect the family unit.
Specific policy positions below.
Education: “Quality education is fundamental to a prosperous and equal society. Education must be about instilling life skills and training students towards life beyond the education system capable of diverse career choices. The so called 3R’s (Reading, Writing & Arithmetic) and parental rights to have a say in their children’s education must be foundational of the education system.”
Employment: “For jobs in the community. We support local industry, local jobs, and ‘build it here’. We believe a fair economy and society is one where each person who wants a job can attain one at a fair remuneration. The CDP understands the importance of a strong economy that facilitates jobs for the people of NSW. CDP proactively works to advocate for jobs growth for the state and vote according to this value. We also want workplace regulation to support the Anti-Slavery Act introduced by the CDP.”
Social security: “The responsibility of a civilised society is to care for the vulnerable, marginalised, elderly, the disabled and the disadvantaged. In Australia this has been managed through policy of a safety net which needs to be sustainable and fair and available for those who genuinely need it.”