Motion - TAFE Investment
August 06, 2020
That this House:
- Notes TAFE has provided a first‑ education to hundreds of thousands of students, apprentices and trainees for over 130 years.
- Commits to ensuring TAFE is properly resourced and remains a public education institution.
- Recognises the future development of employment and advanced skills development must be addressed through TAFE.
- Calls on the Government to expand subsidised courses and incentives for students, trainees and apprentices to enable greater access to TAFE, skills development and employment.
Mr ANOULACK CHANTHIVONG (Macquarie Fields) (11:37:26) — I commend my good friend the Member for Lakemba for moving this important motion. He is a proven school principal who has empowered many students and a professional educator who understands the power of the classroom to expand minds and open opportunities.
Let us compare the Member for Lakemba, with his passion for education, to those opposite. When the history of this Liberal Government is written, it is hard to imagine what disastrous policy decision will rank number one in terms of its long-term devastating impact. Will it be the Government's degradation of the environment? Perhaps. Will it be letting developers run rampant across Sydney? Maybe. Will it be the Government's obsession with privatisation? It could be. Or will it be its wilful, deliberate and long‑term decimation of the TAFE sector? If I was a betting person, I would have to place my money on the destruction of TAFE.
Few policies have been more deliberate, more wide-sweeping and more consequential than the cutting of TAFE services across New South Wales. It is a task that this Government has undertaken with relish, gusto and enthusiasm. Its shameless pursuit of this policy from day one is enough to make anybody's stomach churn.
TAFE should be the crown jewel of a smart, innovative and highly trained workforce. That was the case for generations. Tens of thousands of men and woman across New South Wales undertook their training in a TAFE system whose international reputation was second to none.
Nowadays, sadly, one look at this State's TAFE system will show gutted campuses and empty halls and classrooms. Cuts to staffing numbers and courses and increased fees are the policies that this Government has pursued and proudly advertised. The consequences of those policies are now evident and clear for all to see.
We have massive skills shortages in any number of industries. TAFE has one of the most casualised work forces in the country. Prospective students have fewer choices but are certainly paying a lot more in fees. The vacuum created by this Liberal-Nationals Government means that dodgy private providers have been left unchecked to rip off unsuspecting and vulnerable students.
Access to quality vocational education should not be contingent on one's bank balance. Indeed, it has never been so important in this age of higher unemployment to have job seekers skilled up and job ready. They are skills not just for today and tomorrow but for the long-term future of our country and State.The irony is that at the time the Government should have been investing in TAFE, it was in fact doing the very opposite.
This Government is one that excels in window dressing. It has a Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education and a Minister for Jobs. Yet when it comes to substance, or something that actually helps those needing skills, this Government is found lacking. It is such a pity.
But it is never too late. A good starting point to rebuild TAFE is to expand the number of courses at a cost people can afford, particularly during these troubling times. Recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic thousands of people took up the opportunity to complete a free TAFE course. That just goes to show how expensive and unattainable courses have become under this Liberal-Nationals Government.
Literally thousands of people were waiting for the opportunity to get workplace skills without breaking the budget. Labor knows and understands a robust TAFE is vital to the prosperity of our State and nation.
The time for cutting, slashing and gutting is over. The time for investing and rebuilding is now. TAFE must be a vital part of our post COVID-19 economic recovery.
I lay down this challenge to the Liberal-Nationals Government to save TAFE. It is not too late because only the weak do not change their minds.