Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (13:50): Today is National TAFE Day. TAFE is a great national asset, and it has been for decades and for generations of Australians. It is our vocational education public provider, and we know so well that the words 'public provider' leave a bitter taste in the mouths of those opposite—as, for example, the ABC knows only too well. TAFE needs to remain a national asset—there for young Australians, there for restructured workers, there for regional and rural communities, there to ensure that people have a future in an ever-changing world—and it has had nothing but attacks from those opposite. They can barely bring themselves to say the word 'TAFE', to be honest with you, unless they're cutting funding from it—$3 billion since they came to government. TAFE must be sustainable.
Only Labor has a plan for that, committing two out of every three dollars to our public provider. It must be accessible. We must make sure all people who have the capacity and interest get opportunity, and we are backing 100,000 places at TAFE for those people. It must be respected. It needs to be seen as an important part of post-secondary education, and Labor is doing the work to get a full review into an effective system that delivers for post-secondary education. We back our TAFEs; we back our teachers and our students and our communities. Those opposite have a disgraceful history and it should not be forgotten on National TAFE Day.
Watch Sharon’s speech here.