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Wednesday, 13 February 2013
Page: 1265

Mr BYRNE (Holt) (19:54): Speaking of the future, if we actually want Australia to succeed in the future in the 21st century, nothing is more important or more critical than ensuring that our kids have the best educational opportunities and educational pathways. Our Labor government, I am proud to say, has sought to strengthen our country's educational security and to provide and support those educational pathways in its Building the Education Revolution, which has improved school facilities at many schools around the country but, most importantly, at 52 schools in my electorate of Holt.

This school modernisation program has been absolutely vital to the local community in my electorate. It is providing the necessary educational and very important social infrastructure which is needed for the rapidly growing Casey region, which is currently estimated to be at 252,400 people. At present, about 40 families, or 118 people, shift into the city of Casey each week, 43,800 students are at school, 7,500 students are attending university and 6,600 students are attending TAFE. By 2036, it is estimated that the population of the city of Casey will be about 450,000, which is approximately the size of Tasmania's population today.

The projects that we provided during the period of the global financial crisis were quite important—that was the origin of the BER program—particularly when you think about the global job losses in that period of time, which were about 27 million jobs. That is point that I want to stress because the government acted when we faced the GFC. We acted to protect and create Australian jobs and, at the same time, to invest in our kids' future. In our more globally interconnected and highly competitive world, it is important that governments do what they can—I notice that President Obama was speaking about this today—to protect and invest in our children and in our future. We need to continue to build the social and educational infrastructure for our children.

Young people in our region face many challenges, but they only increase if governments fail to invest in children's education. That is why it is so vital for us to support projects such as the BER program and also the trade training centre program which are providing pathways for our kids into the TAFE sector. It is also why Victorians have been very upset with the Baillieu government's cuts to the TAFE sector, which have seen an incredible 25.8 per cent drop in TAFE applications—not tremendously helpful.

By contrast, our federal Labor government has been fully committed to supporting our children in their quest to acquire a trade qualification via the trade training centre program. I think this is really important. It is important to state again in this place, particularly for the young people that I represent in my area, that there is no difference in value between a trade certification and a university degree. Labor and I celebrate and support people who pursue a trades career. We need to encourage it.

I am also pleased to announce that next Monday I will be officially opening the $10.5 million Hallam Valley Trade Training and Skills Hub at the Hallam Senior Secondary College. It shows our commitment to these young people. It shows them a pathway to the future. The building is very impressive. The trade training centre program was actually first announced by the member for Griffith in his budget reply in May 2007. It has become a signature reform of this particular government. We are doing it to address skill shortages and to provide an extra educational investment for our young people in their transition into the TAFE sector.

The Hallam Valley Trade Training and Skills Hub will provide job-ready training in traditional and emerging trades for senior school students at Hallam Senior Secondary College, Fountain Gate Secondary College, Gleneagles Secondary College, Endeavour Hills Secondary College, Hampton Park Secondary College, Narre Warren South P-12 College and St John's Regional College. The trade training centre—which, as I said, is an incredibly impressive building—has an automotive workshop, a construction workshop, two theory rooms, two seminar rooms, store rooms, a computer workshop and amenities, and existing facilities that have also been refurbished. It is an investment in our kids' future. You can actually see the trade training centre from the Hallam Bypass, which is another road work that was initiated by the Bracks government. In general, there is a lot of community pride. I am really proud to be opening this centre. It is the government's commitment to the future and it is recognising trade as an incredibly valuable and an important job in our economy. As I said, I will be very proud to open this facility on Monday.

House adjourned at 20 : 00