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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 7163

Mr LAURIE FERGUSON (Werriwa) (21:29): The Parliamentary Secretary, earlier this month, took the opportunity to open extensions at Macquarie Fields TAFE, where she herself was educated. I note that those developments cost $10.3 million, of which the federal government contributed $9.43 million. It involved a weights cardio room, aerobics rooms, a fitness testing room, educational offices and landscaping et cetera in regard to the sport and recreation facility whereby people can do certificates in fitness and remedial massage. In the health and community and the sign-industry facility, we had the installation of a massage therapy room, two clinical rooms, two sign-industry workrooms, and a specialist computer room as well. On the premises as a whole, there was the rollout of wireless technology resulting in students and staff having access to high quality wireless connections to the internet, and improved communications and directional signage throughout the TAFE et cetera. This TAFE, established in 1978, enrols about 3,000 students and it is a great facility. What impresses me is that it is in industries of the future where young people are interested, they are motivated, they have a personal interest plus employment possibility.

This is not the only TAFE effort by the current federal government, because last year—just down the road, as a matter of fact—we saw an $11 million building skills centre go in at Ingleburn. That is an interesting centre because it is basically whole of project based approach in regards to skills development allowing students in several trades to work together and work cooperatively in real-world scenarios. Once again, the overwhelming investment was by this federal government. Of that $11 million, $9.2 million came from the federal government. At that point—and I know things have improved since then—over the previous three years the government had invested more than $700 million to build new vocational education training facilities. There is a close involvement at Macarthur Centre in the building sector with industry, a focus on sustainable development and the area of green skill training in building and construction.

I do not need to indicate the urgent requirement that we actually invest in the TAFE sector. This has been a major thrust of the current federal government and I want to ask the parliamentary secretary whether she thinks it is too late in the day and whether, given the previous government's reliance upon international students to come in here, basically migrate on the basis of becoming a chef or a hairdresser, showing a total disregard of the need for skill development in this country, a privatisation of sectors of training to rather shoddy, questionable private sector providers, and the urgent skills shortages we have at this moment, these kinds of initiatives will be enough to reverse that damage.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): I call the parliamentary secretary reminding her that we are going well over time, but I am allowing it to proceed and I am sure your answer will be fairly succinct, without giving you direction.