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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Page: 12884


Ms GRIERSON ( Newcastle ) ( 19:05 ): I rise to inform the House of the outstanding results that the Hunter Institute of TAFE is achieving locally in Newcastle and on a national and international scale. I recently attended the official opening of Hamilton TAFE's $8.8 million refurbished facilities in my electorate. Benefiting from in excess of $7 million from the federal Labor government, the facilities represent the confidence we have in the TAFE system to provide quality training and to build quality relationships with industry to support that training. It is also recognition that the TAFE system has the capacity and the foresight to build industry-sector-wide relationships within their regions and in that way play a valuable role in responding to local skill demands and shortages. While private providers can provide fee-for-service solutions, the TAFE system can respond to the big picture demands and lead communities and regions through their broader reach and strategic approaches.

Since federal Labor formed government in 2007, we have invested more than $27.3 million in local TAFE facilities in my electorate and in special program grants. A program worthy of special mention is the e-training program, which funds over $2 million to the Hunter Institute of TAFE to design online courses—again, leading the nation in 21st century delivery models for the switched-on generation, soon to benefit Newcastle with the National Broadband Network.

It is this investment in skills and training and the involvement of the Hunter Institute of TAFE that has strengthened Newcastle's services, hospitality, trades and manufacturing sectors, because Labor understand that the strength of our employment sectors can only be as strong as our skills base. Diversification of our economy and maintaining the skills that support that diversification remain a key challenge for governments.

Hamilton TAFE campus is the largest training facility for tourism and hospitality outside of Sydney, and it is the key training centre for commercial cooking in the Hunter region. My first ever visit to TAFE as the member for Newcastle was to that campus, at the invitation of Peter Frost, a well-known businessman, butcher, teacher and patron of the arts.

One notable Novocastrian export and TAFE graduate is Brett Graham. After studying hospitality at Hamilton TAFE, Brett went on to Sydney's award-winning Banc restaurant and later moved to the UK. There he was named Young Chef of the Year in 2002, and he is today the owner and head chef of The Ledbury restaurant in Notting Hill, London. Here he has won many awards, including the Best in London for food by both Zagat and Harden's restaurant guides. His restaurant was also named the UK's No. 1 restaurant and Brett was named the nation's best chef in the National Restaurant Awards. The local TAFE now hosts the Brett Graham Invitational Cookery Competition, in which students compete for a $5,000 scholarship, travelling to London and gaining work experience at Brett's restaurant. He is a shining example and one of many that the TAFE system produces—and one of many who continue to give back to the community.

Our wonderful TAFE graduates certainly contribute to, as a recent Newcastle Herald headline read, 'Newcastle's growing reputation as a foodie mecca'. The article detailed the efforts and achievements of local restaurateurs and those in the hospitality industry. In September, the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide 2013 awarded a number of hats to local restaurants, including Restaurant Mason, operating in just its first year, along with other Newcastle establishments Bacchus, Subo and Restaurant Deux.

Hunter Street TAFE campus, home of the 120-year-old Newcastle Art School, has also produced a number of national success stories, including Sulman Prize winner and Archibald finalist Nigel Milsom, designers Catherine and Jennifer Strutt, Young Einsteinfilmmaker Yahoo Serious, model Jennifer Hawkins, and Knights captain Kurt Gidley—all educated at our local TAFE.

Such places are doing great things for Newcastle, and credit is due to the young entrepreneurs who are revitalising Newcastle's transitioning and diverse economy, putting us on the map—just like in 2011, when Lonely Planet named Newcastle the ninth best city in the world to visit. Our appetite for such success continues to grow. But I note that Barry O'Farrell has said that there are no jobs in the arts and that TAFEs really need to have a fee-for-service approach—which, of course, defies reality. I did not really know he was such a bogan. Our local TAFE campuses deserve to take pride in such accomplished achievers as Brett Graham, and he is not alone, and there are many others who will follow. I note too that chef Heston Blumenthal has just been here and said how important the Australian food industry is and how vibrant it is. He says he has not seen anything like it around the world.

So I think TAFEs deserve great credit. I know that Hunter TAFE will continue to produce fine, skilled people that do Newcastle proud. I congratulate its director, Phil Cox, and his team on their outstanding achievements and I wish them continued success. (Time expired)