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Thursday, 10 May 2018
Page: 3738


Mr EVANS (Brisbane) (16:16): I was so pleased that the member of Moreton asked me whether I am a member of 'team Queensland' and whether Brisbane is sharing in this infrastructure pipeline promised in the budget by this government. I was delighted on Tuesday night when the Treasurer announced $300 million towards the Brisbane Metro, to make that project a reality for the people of Brisbane. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the very good people of Brisbane, all of those locals who answered my calls and signed the petitions, who helped to prove how enthusiastic the grassroots support was in Brisbane for the Brisbane Metro project. People of Brisbane, your voice has been heard.

I almost laughed out loud when I heard that in today's debate Labor was going to try to raise education and skills funding. Labor's silly line about somehow making it harder for people to get a job has come straight after the biggest ever year for job creation in Australia's history—on average, 1,100 jobs created each and every day last year. The vast majority of those jobs were full-time jobs and the vast majority went to women. Women currently have the highest participation rate in the workforce that they've ever had in Australia's history.

Labor should be embarrassed to bring up the topic of education funding. Right now, education funding is higher than it ever was under any year that Labor was ever in office, and the funding is going up, not down. I can report that Brisbane's education sector is going from strength to strength. In fact, international education is currently Brisbane city's biggest export. One of the reasons is that Australia's vocational education and training system is internationally recognised as one of the very best in the world.

There is a reason that Labor in particular should be so embarrassed to bring up their record on the funding of skills and apprenticeships when they were in government. For those playing along at home—everyone can look this up for themselves as I talk about it—you just have to Google 'NCVER apprenticeship numbers'. NCVER is the National Centre for Vocational Education Research. They publish these numbers and have done so for years—they graph them. If you do a Google image search on their numbers it will come up straight away on the front page and it will become abundantly clear within seconds to anyone who does so that apprenticeship numbers went off a cliff in 2012 when Labor were in charge, when they totally and fatally lost control of the government's budget and the nation's finances. They lost control of Australia's budget; they dropped apprenticeship funding; and the number of apprenticeships in our country went off a cliff. That is what happened. I was there. I was working with industry and with trainers in the retail sector at the time.

So, for Labor to bring up this topic in this way shows that they have absolutely no shame, and to bring it up in a week when the entire national conversation is about the federal budget and about how this country is trying to turn the corner after those horrible years when Labor did lose control of the budget, and all of the terrible consequences that had for education and training and every other area, shows that they have absolutely no idea. Labor have no shame and no idea. Rather than cuts, education funding is going up in this budget.

This week's budget has been, I must say, a fantastic budget for the people of Brisbane. More than 75,000 people across the electorate of Brisbane will receive tax cuts in 50 days. Those hardworking people right across Brisbane will be keeping more of their own money, their own hard-earned money, as reward for their efforts, because this government's strong economic plan is starting to pay dividends for the country, just as it is in jobs and just as it is in the education and training spaces. A year ago, when I got up in this House to talk about last year's budget, I predicted why supporting Australia's small and medium businesses would pay these sorts of dividends, and now here we are seeing evidence of the key planks of the government's strong economic plan: tax relief for small and medium businesses, our innovation agenda, our education and training funding, the new free trade agreements and growing our defence industry. We see evidence of these policies working right across Brisbane and right across the country. Nationwide, these policies have combined to help Australia's small and medium businesses create new jobs, more jobs, faster than at any time in Australia's history.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Hogan ): The time for the discussion is concluded.