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Thursday, 10 May 2018
Page: 3736


Mr PERRETT (MoretonOpposition Whip) (16:11): I think this is called the matter of public importance. It's a chance to talk about something that's important for Australia. I don't think it's called 'let's read out the coalition's speaking points'. We are supposed to talk about the future of Australia. Four speakers have had a chance to rebut what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition put forward: the proposition that in the government's budget papers you've stripped $270 million from TAFE on top of the more than $1 billion that you had cut previously. We have not had a single debating speaker come back and refute that point. I see that the member for Brisbane is up next, so this is a great chance for him. He's not a member of Team Queensland; he wasn't listed as being a member of Team Queensland by the infrastructure minister. Maybe he will be the TAFE champion—he will get up and actually talk to us about how Brisbane is benefiting from that budget last night, which ripped $200-plus million out of TAFE.

I'm not a tradie myself, but I do have two siblings that are butchers and one sibling that's an electrician. I've got a few nephews that are plumbers, carpenters and construction workers. I understand what tradies do. They're some of our unsung heroes in society, and not only when your water or electricity are cut off and they come on the weekend to help you out; we need our tradies to keep our economy growing, whether it be things like helping us out with the NBN—that disaster that's being rolled out by those opposite—swinging the hammers, laying the pipes or literally building the foundations of our nation's future.

In Moreton we have a world-class training centre at Acacia Ridge called SkillsTech. It's a fantastic place. The member for Cunningham has been there with me, and I've been there with the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who was most excited to meet one of the plumbing trainers because the member for Sydney's dad was a plumber and so they were able to talk plumbing stories. They are training the future tradies and technicians, not just in a classroom but obviously with the facilities that come with creating all those jobs, like motor mechanics, sheetmetal workers, fitters, panelbeaters, vehicle painters, carpenters, joiners, plumbers, cabinet-makers, electricians, and air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanics, to name but a few. You can't just train those people in a classroom; you actually have to invest in infrastructure. All of those specific trades that I mentioned are on the 2017 Queensland list of skill shortages, the list put out by the Commonwealth Department of Jobs and Small Business. All of those skills are actually taught at TAFEs like SkillsTech at Acacia Ridge, yet what do we see? We see a myopic, stumbling government that is cutting funds to the training facilities that are necessary to skill our workforce.

As the member for Cunningham touched on, the other big cut and the other great need is aged care. The number of senior baby boomers is booming. We know that that population pyramid is going to work its way through. It is a sector for which the workforce will need to at least double by 2050—double its workforce! So, what are we doing? Are we investing in aged care training? No, we're making cuts to training facilities, when we need to provide extra training for workers in the aged-care sector.

Labor, obviously, would be a much more practical and visionary government under Prime Minister Shorten. I will tell you what we would be doing. We would be doing things like guaranteeing that at least two out of every three Commonwealth dollars goes to TAFE, because we know that TAFE in the bush and in the city is the backbone of training. We know that TAFE will do the right thing. We'll provide 10,000 pre-apprenticeship programs for young people who want to learn a trade and provide 20,000 adult apprentice programs for older workers who need to retrain. We will invest $100 million in modernising TAFE facilities around the country because, sadly, some of them that were built in the seventies—and some that were even built in the late sixties—are starting to look a little bit old and tired. More importantly, we will ensure that one in every 10 jobs on Commonwealth priority projects are filled by Australian apprentices and Australian trainees. We will make sure that the job needs of the future are being invested in by the Commonwealth government. We know that TAFE has the track record. It's not going to jump in like the spivs did under the watch of those opposite. We know that as they enter their fifth year of government they need to step up on investing in TAFE.