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Birmingham's litany of TAFE cuts, waste and mismanagement revealed at estimates



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SENATOR THE HON DOUG CAMERON SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS SHADOW MINISTER FOR SKILLS, TAFE AND APPRENTICESHIPS SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES

BIRMINGHAM’S LITANY OF TAFE CUTS, WASTE AND MISMANAGEMENT REVEALED AT ESTIMATES

Budget Estimates have revealed a litany of Liberal failures in vocational education and training, reaffirming their neglect of TAFE and the entire skills and training system.

Wasted money

The Liberals have wasted $24.1 million on a disastrous, now abandoned, five-year apprenticeship IT system upgrade, despite clear warnings from the very first assurance review in July 2015 that the project had the hallmarks of impending failure.

They will now spend as additional $1.3 million just to “maintain the current capability” of the original 1999 system. The Minister doesn’t even know what it will cost to successfully upgrade the IT platform.

Cuts to apprenticeship funding

The Skilling Australians Fund, the Coalition’s apparent centrepiece apprenticeships policy, has been cut by $270 million over the forward estimates.

For a year there has been no funding flowing to the states and territories from the Skilling Australians Fund. Not surprisingly, 12 months on and no State or Territory has signed up to the government’s diminishing funding agreement.

Dirty deals at the expense of apprenticeships

While apprenticeship numbers continue to decline, the Liberals have showed their willingness to fund Pauline Hanson’s spurious 1,000 apprenticeships proposal; and have already funded Bob Day’s dodgy student builder pilot for 17 students - with funding that would otherwise support an additional 6,300 apprentices.

No leadership on TAFE

Despite clear findings on the importance of TAFE to Australia, with Professor John Halsey reporting that, “TAFE has to be put back in the regions, closer to people and the heartland of much of Australia’s productivity”, Simon Birmingham continues to show no leadership on critical importance of quality public provision, and under questioning deflected responsibility to the states and territories.

Cuts to vocational education research

The Turnbull government’s total contribution to the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research has dropped, with their budget for independent research cut by close to thirty percent over four years.

These cuts, waste and mismanagement are damaging the VET sector and the productivity of Australian workers. Skills and vocational education are absolutely vital to the future of this country, but the government’s infighting and instability, and the hostility of the Liberals towards TAFE particularly, is cruelling our future prosperity.

Only Labor has a costed and comprehensive plan for VET that will give Australians looking to improve their skills a fair go.

WEDNESDAY, 6 JUNE 2018

MEDIA CONTACT: LUKE WHITINGTON 0422 265 775

Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra