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Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Page: 11003


Ms ROWLAND (Greenway) (14:40): My question is to the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. Will the minister advise the House of the importance of school and skills education to our nation's future? Are there any challenges to this?

Mr GARRETT (Kingsford SmithMinister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth) (14:40): I thank the member for that question. There are definitely challenges I can identify, particularly when we look at the impact of New South Wales government cuts on schools in her electorate like St John's Primary College of Riverstone. I want to table the Rouse Hill Times where principal Marian Bell says:

I am concerned what will happen to a little school like St John's … I am also worried about the school's extra curricular activities.

Thankfully, they have the Labor member for Greenway to fight for that school because all the state Liberal member could say was:

I know there will be in impact on the schools and families. It is up to the school system to decide if they have to have cuts in their administration or their fees have to go up.

What a Liberal Party choice. We do the building up in education and they do the tearing down. It is the same story in skills as well. We know that learning a trade has a big impact on a young person's employment prospects. Some 83 per cent of people with a certificate III or higher are employed compared with 57 per cent of those who leave school early. We also know that skills training is essential for our economy to grow. In New South Wales alone, we need an extra 320,000 trained workers by 2015. That is why this government is putting in place trade cadetships in the national curriculum. That is why this government is investing $2.5 billion in trades training centres and schools—you-beaut industry-standard facilities so that every secondary student in the country can start learning a trade while still at school. Of course, the opposition leader has promised to scrap trade training centres as part of his $2.8 billion in education cuts and it is the same story in TAFE and vocational training.

We on this side are investing $9 billion for students to get the skills they need in the workforce whilst, at the same time, the New South Wales Liberal government is cutting 800 TAFE jobs and increasing fees by 9.5 per cent. Even the New South Wales MP for Penrith admitted to the Western Weekender that the cuts will have an impact on the delivery of TAFE programs. Just look to the north and there we have the LNP government in Queensland planning to close at least 38 of the state's 82 TAFE campuses. Every local and regional Queensland TAFE is on notice. Look south, down to Victoria, and the Victorian Liberal government is pledging $300 million in its first budget in cuts to TAFE. We have already seen campuses closing and courses closing. Just as it is in schools with the Liberal Party, it is in skills as well: we do the building up and all they want to do is cut it down.