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Thursday, 10 May 2018
Page: 3724

Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (15:40): That was a staggering contribution from the assistant minister. There were 10 minutes allotted to the government minister, and the only point at which they actually talked about their own reforms was in the last 30 seconds. The last 30 seconds was all we got.

Mrs Andrews: I'm happy to continue speaking!

Mr HUSIC: No, because your time, Minister, was actually the bulk of the contribution that you should have made. What was in the bulk of the contribution? A throwback to years before. The coalition have been in government for nearly five years. They had the opportunity to say what they were doing, but all they could focus on was the past, as is often the case. Why? Because it is a complete distraction from their inability to get this right.

In actual fact, what this government is doing on education, in terms of its failure to invest in skill, is intergenerationally reprehensible because it will deny the next generation of Australians what they require in terms of an investment in human capital. We know what's going to happen in work. We know what technology is going to do to profoundly change the way in which people work, and we know we need to invest in human capital right now. We need smarter Australians and more skilled Australians. We need them to have that level of support that requires that investment in human capital.

What do we get out of the coalition? In that environment where we need to invest, we get cuts to schools. In the environment where we need to lift skills, we get cuts to TAFE. In the environment where we need to prepare them for the future, we get cuts to universities. There have been cuts to schools, cuts to TAFE and cuts to uni by the government. We often hear when they talk about Gonski that it's about spending smarter, yet this is what they're doing: they are cutting the funding to education and then puncturing the budget with a massive hole, with an $80 billion handover of funds to corporate Australia through corporate tax cuts. Those are the very same businesses that are crying out for skills and wanting to see investments in people, yet this mob want to cut $80 billion out of the budget for corporate tax cuts. It gives you every sense of their priorities in this area.

Look at what they are doing to schools, with $17 billion cut, or universities, with billions cut. In particular, during the course of this government, while the coalition have been in office, $3 billion has been cut out of TAFE. As was indicated by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition earlier, when you know that nine out of 10 positions in the Australian workforce are going to need someone trained through either TAFE or university, how do you cut $3 billion out of TAFE during the course of a government? That's why the minister didn't talk about what they are doing—because their record is so shabby, shameful and scandalous. They cut $3 billion. In this budget, what are they going to do? They are prepared to cut another $300 million. It's not enough that they cut $3 billion out; they're ready to cut another $300 million over four years. It is absolutely a disgrace. There are 140,000 fewer apprentices in this country, and we are being told all the time that there are skills shortages. How do you get away with that?

There are jobs programs that are supposed to prepare young people for work. There used to be a time when you'd always hear about Work for the Dole or PaTH, the internship program, from those opposite. It would always be in the budget, but in this one there is no mention whatsoever—no mention of what funding or what support they are providing young people to get them in jobs. The only good thing that comes out of PaTH is plasticine statistics; they are always squeezing the stats. They're always shaping them up and massaging them one way or another. You can never find out how many interns actually got jobs. Eighty per cent per cent of people who go through Work for the Dole don't have a job three months after. All that young people got in this budget was roughly $1 million for a youth employment body. That was it. That's all that you got out of those opposite. They're not preparing young people for work; they're punishing them for being out of work.

Then you look at what's happening in terms of the future of work itself: 3.5 million jobs in Australia will be affected by technological change. In a workforce of 12 million, that's big. We get nothing out of those opposite in terms of preparing people for what's going to happen. TAFE has a huge role, particularly in the middle of people's careers, in getting them new skills and preparing them for new jobs. This is why I say that what is happening on skills under those opposite is intergenerationally reprehensible. They are selling out young people and their futures, all for the sake of handing over an $80 billion corporate tax cut. It is a disgrace.