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Monday, 13 February 2017
Page: 814

Mr DICK (Oxley) (10:55): I rise to place on record my support for the vital role that TAFE plays in education and training in my electorate of Oxley and right across the country. Just last month, I had the pleasure of standing alongside the Premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk, and the Attorney-General and Minister for Training and Skills, Yvette D'Ath, to officially open the $3.4 million expansion to the TAFE Queensland South West Inala campus. This critical infrastructure will upgrade and double the available space for education delivery on campus and includes 10 new classrooms, additional car parks and a wudu room for TAFE Queensland's multicultural student cohort.

Everybody deserves the best possible start to getting a good job, and I have witnessed the transformational power of TAFE over a long period of time. A perfect example of this was student Becky Chan, who gave the welcome address on behalf of the students at the ceremony. Originally from Taiwan, Becky arrived in Australia six years ago speaking little English. With the help of TAFE, she not only delivered a beautiful address to the audience on the day but now runs her own successful small business. Becky is an outstanding example of the fantastic opportunity TAFE provides to both younger and older Australians and, in this example, a great role model citizen for other immigrants to our country to follow. She is a shining example of why we need to be putting more funding and resources into our TAFE system—rather than those opposite, who believe in cutting our higher education system.

Premier and Member for Inala Annastacia Palaszczuk deserves thanks for making sure that TAFE in Queensland has been improved and making sure that the local campus in Inala has received such an important boost. Of course, this is in stark contrast to the previous LNP state government, which sacked TAFE teachers and tried to privatise TAFE in Queensland.

We know that the ACCI have indicated that there were 308,000 apprentices and trainees in training in mid-2015, and that is from a high of 446,000 in 2012. Since then, under this government, we have seen a 30 per cent drop in volume. In my electorate of Oxley, which I am privileged to represent in this place, we have seen apprenticeships fall by a massive 53.6 per cent, down to only 1,486 places in December 2015.

This government must hear the message. We must invest in higher education and particularly the TAFE sector. We need to make sure that our young people have job-ready-equipped outcomes, particularly in the south-west of Brisbane. I know, by talking to the great educators at TAFEs in my electorate and not just in Oxley but right across Queensland and Australia, what a fantastic job they do in helping and supporting our young kids and senior students to get the job skills that they need to equip them for a place in the employment situation in Queensland. I am committed to that and will always ensure that TAFE comes first.