TAFE: Upskilling and re-skilling

11 September, 2023

You are not going to believe what I'm about to say. You are not going to credit me with this statement, but I happen to disagree with the member for Lalor. Isn't that incredible? In fact, the member for Lalor spoke about a labour shortage that was created by a really strong economy. The OECD didn't mention that the strength of the Australian economy was putting enormous pressure our training systems and labour force.

Through the Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison governments I saw a decade of determined, directed development in the training and TAFE sector. It's amazing how, in a few months only, governments can have a different opinion of the regime that went before them. How could it be that such a spin could be put on the Morrison government particularly? In my 25 years in this place I've not been into personal attacks, whereas the Labor Party spent all of their time denigrating the leader, so the things that were good about government just get passed by.

The Liberal and National parties—I always align myself closely with the National Party—have always supported the opportunity to upskill and re-skill. And we will always support Australia's skills system, which I note is much more than just TAFE. The old school of hard knocks comes into this too with some people leaving school at a young age and doing very well for themselves, thank you very much, especially in country Victoria where we don't have the opportunities for tertiary education as much as we would like—although we have put in a university extended campus in Wonthaggi, which is fantastic news. We have good TAFE colleges right across Gippsland. There always have been good TAFE colleges.

I have to address the misinformation that's being put out by the Labor Party and will continue in the addresses today. The Labor Party has, time and time again, falsely claimed that we underfunded TAFE when we were in government, and that is simply not the case. Vocational education and training is a shared responsibility between Commonwealth and the state and territory governments. State governments are responsible for running their own training systems and have direction over how much government funding is provided to TAFE and other training providers. For example, in the 2022-23 financial year, the Commonwealth provided the states and territories with $1.61 billion through the National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development. In other words, there were already agreements there before this government came to office. The work that they're enjoying now was put in place by the Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison governments working on behalf of the Australian people, putting the national interest first every time, having a great desire for our young people to be well trained so that they may not only improve the Australian economy and Australian society, but they also improve economies around the world. Our apprentices in Latrobe Valley, out of the old SEC, are now engineers around the world.

So I put to those who are going to be attacking the past governments of this day: no, there was an enormous amount of work done by Scott Morrison, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull. You should be standing up and patting them on the back because, if they weren't there, people wouldn't have the jobs and opportunities they have today.

Thank you. I wish I had 40 minutes to speak on this.

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Russell Broadbent MP
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