Labor's commitment to the Illawarra

I am very pleased to have the opportunity in the chamber today, under the broad discussion of the appropriation bills, to canvass some of the issues in my local area that have occurred during the election campaign and since then. Continue reading

Mental Health Week

  I want to take the opportunity, as this sitting week comes to an end, to reflect on some of the important conversations and events that occurred as we went through Mental Health Week this week. Many of us in here are aware that we commenced with World Mental Health Day, on Monday, and many of us started wearing our badges. I participated in the campaign to make a personal pledge on mental wellbeing, as I know many of my colleagues did. I was pleased to sign that campaign website and make my personal pledge, which was to give back to my local community through something both fun and meaningful. There was a great range of options for people to consider signing up to. That is still operating, and I would encourage people who are interested in supporting it to go onto the website, make their own pledge and be part of a very important initiative. Continue reading

Statement - Steel Industry

Ms BIRD(Cunningham) (10:36): This evening a very important meeting will be occurring in Wollongong, and if it were not for the fact that the House will be sitting the member for Whitlam and I would definitely be there. The Save our Steel committee has convened the public meeting to be held this evening in particular because at this point in time there is legislation before the state parliament that is looking at a strong proposal put forward, which the Labor team are committed to progressing, to provide real opportunities for a strong and vibrant steel industry into the future and to protect long-term jobs. Of course, this meeting occurs in the aftermath of the decisions we saw last week in relation to the loss of car manufacturing across this country. Continue reading

Cunningham Electorate

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:30): I want to take the opportunity in the adjournment debate today to boast a bit about my own electorate. I know that colleagues throughout this place often take the opportunity to talk about fantastic groups and organisations in their electorates. I have to say that I am not biased: I think my local community is a particularly strong one for reaching out and providing support and encouragement to people across our community. There were some great examples of that in the last week while I was in the electorate. Continue reading

ACCI Conference on VET and Apprentices - Melbourne

ACCI CONFERENCE ON VET AND APPRENTICESHIPS MELBOURNE   20 JUNE 2016   ***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***   Thank you for the invitation to join you today to talk about a subject on which I am very passionate – my portfolio of vocational education and apprenticeships.  You have no doubt noticed that Labor under Bill Shorten has given a very high priority to these two areas in this election campaign.   Since the last election I have been very critical of the Liberal Government’s complete neglect of the sector and failure to address the crisis in apprentices in training numbers.  To date, as we enter the final fortnight of the campaign, the Government has continued this neglect by failing to outline a vision for the sector in the future or any specific policies to address the numerous issues we face.  The contrast between their silence and Labor’s strong platform of policies could not be more stark.  I am very conscious of the significant interest ACCI has taken in the sector, and in apprenticeships in particular, including in your most recent pre-Budget submission. So I am very pleased to have the opportunity to discuss our announcements with you today.  In his Budget Reply speech Bill Shorten said:  “Labor will make training and skills a national priority.   Creating jobs in our regions; Re-training adult workers; and Helping modernise our industries and technologies.   We are delivering on that commitment with a significant range of important policies.  A NATIONAL VET SECTOR REVIEW  Firstly, a Shorten Labor Government will undertake a comprehensive National Vocational Education and Training Sector Review to build a stronger VET sector and weed out dodgy providers and student rip-offs.  Despite its importance to Australia’s social and economic future, Australia’s VET sector is at a crossroads. Costs are increasing but quality is declining, particularly in private courses and states which have experienced funding reductions.  Labor’s review will ensure the VET sector is properly equipped to train Australians for the jobs of the future, proper standards are enforced and the central role of our public TAFE system is recognised.  Our national skills and training sector used to be the envy of the world – since the election of the Liberal Government it has been significantly damaged by shonks and sharks ripping off vulnerable people.   People’s livelihoods are being destroyed – and their job prospects ruined.  It is a disgrace – and action must be taken.  Having a strong VET sector is an important part of Labor’s plan to tackle inequality.  The vocational education and training sector deserves a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to policy-making to ensure it is fit for the critical task of preparing Australians for the jobs of the future.  While schools and universities have had full reviews into funding with the Gonski and Bradley reviews – the vocational education and training sector has been left behind.  The sector has not undergone a full review since the Kangan Report in 1974.  It is time for a full review of the operation of the sector including quality, funding and access.  As new jobs emerge and existing industries go through extensive restructuring the nation will rely on an effective, quality vocational sector to provide the qualifications to enable people to enter the workforce, upskill or retrain.  Labor is committed to protecting the reputation of the sector, prioritising the outcomes for students and meeting the national need for a well-trained workforce into the future.  A TAFE FUNDING GUARANTEE  Under the Abbott-Turnbull Government, Australia’s TAFEs are struggling. In the past two years we have seen the closures of TAFEs, reductions in staffing, ever-increasing course costs and unscrupulous private providers and brokers preying on vulnerable people.  This must not be allowed to continue. TAFE must be backed by governments as it is critical to our future.  Labor has a plan to back TAFE into the future by developing a comprehensive National Priority Plan that defines the unique role of TAFE as our public provider and delivers on this by working with the states and territories to provide ongoing guaranteed TAFE funding.  TAFE must remain an essential part of Australia’s skills and training sector as it plays a vital role in servicing our regions, industries in transition and disadvantaged groups.  As the Australian economy changes, the jobs of the future will change.  Our trades will involve more technology-based skills, and workers will need training in these skills to be more effective in the workplace and to remain competitive in the employment market.  New trades and professions will emerge and require quality training programs and upskilling courses. It is therefore absolutely critical that we invest in supporting our national asset – our public TAFE sector.  There are challenges in the way the vocational educational sector is funded which has led to the decline of the TAFE sector nationally.  Over the last year it has become clear that there has been a failure in the market and we have seen the proliferation of opportunistic and sub-standard training providers costing the taxpayers and students millions of dollars.  This needs to stop.   Under Labor’s plan for TAFE, a Shorten Labor Government will work with Premiers and Chief Ministers on a comprehensive National Priority Plan that defines the unique role of TAFE and places it squarely as the public provider within the VET sector – as the cornerstone of our economy’s need to train and retrain its workforce and deliver on improving the participation, productivity, innovation and growth efforts required for the nation.  Labor is firmly committed to a strong TAFE sector.  We understand how critically important TAFE is to so many students, communities, industries and businesses. It is a national asset and we must work across all levels of government to ensure its future.  RESTORING INTEGRITY AND STOPPING RIP-OFFS   A Shorten Labor Government will introduce a loan cap of $8,000 a year in the VET FEE-HELP program as part of an integrity package to stop the massive waste of taxpayers’ money, to prevent price gouging of students and improve training outcomes.  Under the Liberals, the VET FEE-HELP loans scheme has escalated from $699 million in 2013 to $1.7 billion in 2014 and is expected to have blown out to over $3 billion for 2015.  At the same time, students are being ripped off by unscrupulous colleges and dodgy providers - and taxpayers are being forced to pick up the tab.  In some colleges it is costing taxpayers over a million dollars in VET FEE-HELP loans to produce a single graduate.  In 2014, the ten largest private training college recipients of VET FEE-HELP subsidies in Australia were paid $900 million in government subsidies - yet less than five per cent of their students graduated.  Labor will stop this waste of taxpayers’ money and exploitation of students.  Our plan will restore integrity to the system, by cleaning out the dodgy private providers who have been ripping Australians off for too long.  Labor’s plan to rein in these taxpayer subsidies and restore integrity to the vocational education sector will save Australian taxpayers $6 billion over ten years.  There will be an exemption on legitimate high-cost courses such as nursing and engineering following ministerial approval.  Other measures in Labor’s integrity package include:  Ensuring that funding for providers is linked to student progress Set national priorities to help meet the skills needs of industry Crackdown on the use of brokers to recruit students Ensure that only the highest quality colleges get access to funding Tougher powers to audit, investigate and suspend unscrupulous providers   COMMONWEALTH INSTITUTES OF HIGHER EDUCATION  Labor has a plan to expand access to higher education and support local jobs in outer suburban and regional Australia.  Investing in education and training is the single most important thing we can do to maintain Australia’s prosperity and secure the jobs of the future.  Labor is committed to opening up access to higher education to more Australians and supporting universities as critical drivers of innovation across the economy.  A Shorten Labor Government will build on this record – not just because it is the fair thing to do, but because our future prosperity depends on it.  A Shorten Labor Government will work to establish Commonwealth Institutes of Higher Education to deliver new higher education qualifications in the outer suburbs and regional areas where existing universities struggle to give Australians access. A network of pilot sites, with universities working together with TAFE, will address acute need in areas of under-participation while trialling approaches tailored to local conditions and designed to give students options.  While the Institutes model is a new form of collaboration, it is not a new kind of a university. Commonwealth institutes will be joint ventures between universities, TAFEs, industry and in many cases local and State governments. They will deliver a mix of higher education with technically focused vocational education specifically designed to drive innovation and productivity growth in industry and enterprises. The applied nature of learning and the close link between theory and practice will offer a unique student experience compared to universities or in training.  Many students eligible for tertiary education are seeking a practical vocational approach to learning. Commonwealth Institutes will be the specialist providers in the delivery of hands-on work-integrated learning. Applied real-world learning will be its distinguishing feature.  Commonwealth Institutes will deliver Advanced Diplomas and Associate Degrees, as specified by Australian Qualifications Framework Level 6. Students will have a tradeable exit qualification and the option to continue on to bachelor-level study at university.  As a condition of funding, Commonwealth Institutes will be required to demonstrate engagement with industry and links to regional labour market need, give instruction that leads to real economy jobs, and offer an articulation pathway to higher study at a university.  For the first time Australia will have a network of tertiary education institutions which bring together the best of applied higher education and high order technical and vocational skills to deliver an innovation and technology driven boost to the Australian economy.  A Shorten Labor Government will establish a national network of Commonwealth Institutes of Higher Education by:  (a)  Funding the establishment of a network of pilot Institutes in areas of demonstrated policy need and existing vocational training, higher education and industry collaboration. (b)  Increasing the availability of Commonwealth supported places at the advanced diploma and associate degree levels to support the development of new pathways to work that combine academic learning and technical skills. These places will be funded at 70 per cent of the full university rate, consistent with established policy expectations for sub-degree places (to which the notional research premium does not apply). (c)   Conducting feasibility studies in every State and Territory into where Commonwealth Institutes should be located to expand access to higher education and work-ready high-skill vocational training. (d)  Conducting progressive impact assessments of the pilot Institutes and encouraging the sharing of best practice and shared challenges. (e)  Shaped by the outcome of the assessments and the feasibility studies, opening the program for bids to established new Institutes in areas of identified need and capability. Consortia of universities, TAFEs or other tertiary education providers will be encouraged to apply, in concert with industry and local and State Governments.  Demographic analysis shows regions of persistent low participation and attainment, particularly in outer metropolitan and regional Australia. In a number of these areas, local communities, businesses and institutions have already identified their needs and opportunities, and progressed plans to work together to address them. Many of these collaborations are very well advanced, and leverage off existing infrastructure and relationships. Some require capital investment, while others require funding only for development, staffing and student load.  An initial pilot project at two sites has already been announced: the University of Tasmania’s Northern Transformation Project, targeting Launceston and Burnie, to which Labor committed $150 million on 28 April. The project is set to create 3,110 jobs, including 265 additional academic and professional staff jobs and support 12 000 new students into higher education in North and North-West Tasmania. The plan is estimated to deliver $1.1 billion economic output during the construction phase alone and an additional $428 million a year in economic activity.  A total of ten pilot sites will be established in all States, in locations where need is demonstrated, and where institutions, industry and local communities are ready to implement locally tailored pilot Institutes. Continue reading

Transcript - Port Kembla - Tanya Plibersek MP, 17 June, 2016

E&OE TRANSCRIPT DOORSTOP, PORT KEMBLA FRIDAY 17 JUNE 2016 SUBJECTS: Death of Jo Cox MP; Labor’s $50 million commitment to the Molden-Dombarton freight rail link; Labor candidate for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips. TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It's terrific to be here with my very good friend and colleague Sharon Bird, the member for Cunningham. Before we get on to today's announcement I just want to say a few words about the death of Jo Cox in the UK. It's a really shocking murder of a woman who, by every account, was a well-known and well-loved representative of her local community. Someone who had served her constituency but also worked overseas in some of the poorest and most desperate parts of our planet, really seeking to help our common humanity. And to lose her life in such a violent way really is a shock to all people and we send our condolences to her family, her friends, her Labour Party colleagues, her constituency and all of the people of the United Kingdom who, no doubt, are horrified by this event today. On to local issues, it is a real pleasure to be here to say that a Labor Governme nt, if elected on the 2nd of July, would support the Malden to Dombarton freight rail link. This is a project that Labor has supported in the past when in government. In 2011, we committed substantial funding to see the initial parts of this very important freight rail project begun. Sadly, since we left government, both the Turnbull and Abbott Liberal Governments, federally, and the Baird Government here in New South Wales have completely dropped the ball on this very necessary project. Our announcement today is a $50 million commitment from the Commonwealth Government if Labor should be elected. We expect the New South Wales Government to match that commitment with another $50 million and of course this project will also require private sector partnership. This 35 kilometre freight rail link would join the port of Port Kembla with the main southern line around Picton. It would, of course, be an economic stimulus for both Port Kembla and south western Sydney, more easily mo ving freight rail between south western Sydney and the port. It would also, of course, have benefit for passenger rail freeing up some of the passenger rail lines on the Illawarra Line. It's a very busy line already and it would make it easier to run more services on that passenger rail line. We know that this would be a very important generator of jobs when it's complete, but it will also be a very important generator of jobs during its construction phase. It has some very significant engineering work to be done, including a four kilometre freight rail tunnel, which would make that one of the longest freight rail tunnels in Australia. And of course, a number of bridges, an underpass under the highway and so on. It is a very significant project that would bring a great deal of economic benefit to Port Kembla, to surrounding areas and also to south western Sydney and I'd like my colleague Sharon Bird to talk a little bit about the project. She has been an extraord inary advocate for this project. To see it done, to make sure that there is an economic benefit to the people that she represents. SHARON BIRD, MEMBER FOR CUNNINGHAM: Thank you Tanya. Look, I'm really pleased to be here today once again, indicating that Labor is determined to progress the Malden-Dombarton rail line. It is the case that when we were in government, under the minister at the time Anthony Albanese - who has continued to be a great advocate for this particular rail link - that we put the money in through the State Government to get the project progressed and I'm thrilled that our Deputy Leader can be with me today for this announcement. Tanya has obviously been here before, but she's a great friend to the region and it's really good to have her here to join us. This project is significantly important to diversifying our regional economy, to ensuring that we can create jobs locally out of that. It's also important to linking us with the growth centres of this state and it's also important to providin g a better amenity for locals as we see freight increase - to have more of that go on rail. So we've been fighting to have this project completed. Before the last election, Labor had $50 million on the table to partner with the private sector in order to get progress. The first Abbott Government budget cancelled that money so we've now seen an Expression of Interest process by the State Government come to an unsuccessful conclusion. It is our view that we are determined that the Federal Government under a Labor Government continue to progress the project so we're putting the $50 million back on the table. We're calling on the State Government to match that, to send a very clear signal that both levels of government support the project and that will enable us to engage with the private sector to get this rail freight link built. I have, as Tanya said, been campaigning for nearly 10 years on this. It may be that I'm a dog with a bone but I 9;m not going to let it go. I'm determined that we progress this. The Turnbull Government now has said nothing and so I'm putting a challenge out to them as well - stop forgetting our region and match this commitment and let's get this rail freight link built because it just makes so much sense to everybody across the region. JOURNALIST: Why do you think the registration of interest process did fail with three companies considered by the State Government to not match, not fulfil the criteria? BIRD: Look when the State Government announced that they were not willing to take any of the expressions of interest up, I with Stephen Jones wrote to the Minister and said 'well what's going to happen now? What’s the issue?' The State Minister indicated that he felt that they might be able to progress it with some Federal Government support. So we also wrote to the Federal Government Minister. Now it's just been deafening silence from the Turnbull Government on this, so I think it is really important that today we are saying the challenge is down again. We had $50 million on the table, you guys knocked it off, we're putting it back on the table and we need to get this stalled project back in action. JOURNALIST: Is the $50 million still there regardless of whether the state matches it? BIRD: Our $50 million is on the table, but we have no doubt that we need to send a very clear signal to potential private sector proponents that the project has the support of both levels of government and that's why we're calling on the State Government to give that indication by matching our commitment. Which is, I think, a really strong signal then if they did that, to the private sector, that you've got both the Federal Labor Government and the State Government supporting the project. We think that would get it moving and I hope that they can come to the party on that at the state level, but also at the federal level. JOURANLIST: What's the project worth all together? BIRD: It's just under $700 million for the entire project. There is obviously private sector interest because the State Government was able to get some submissions up. So we believe that what is really needed to progress it is a strong signal. Both levels of government want to see it built and completed and we believe this is the mechanism to achieve that. I'm just really pleased, and I'm happy to say I've had nothing but support from my Federal Labor team on getting this project done, but also most recently I met with the regional councils who had a meeting in Wollongong for indicating their support. We've had mayors from across the south west of Sydney and Illawarra region making it very clear that they see the benefits for their communities, too. And I made a commitment to them that I would push continually for this and also call on other parties to do the same thing. JOURNALIST: $50 million out of $700 million needed, doesn't sound like - I mean it's progressing it - but I wouldn't call that a huge chunk of the money? BIRD: The important thing here is there obviously private sector interest out there. Now when the State Government went to their Expressions of Interest they were putting no money and you still had private sector interest in actually being part of building the line. So our view is, that if between the State and Federal Government you've got $100 million on the table that is a very strong signal that we are committed to getting it done and we believe that there is some private sector out there, as shown in the Expression of Interest process, in partnering to do that.  JOURNALIST: [inaudible] Would the $50 million still be spent if the states don't put anything in?   BIRD: Well we would be talking to the private sector and continuing to progress the partnership as we did before the last election. But I don't want to lose the fact that I think that that's going to be a much more successful process if the private sector see both levels of government backing it in, and that's why the call is so important to the State Government as well. Continue reading

National TAFE Day - Geelong, Gordon TAFE

NATIONAL TAFE DAY GEELONG – GORDON TAFE  16 JUNE 2016  ***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***   Thank you everybody. I might just do an all in one explanation of why I am here today with our fabulous candidate, Libby Coker, and I am back again because we had such a great visit last time and it was really good as I had the opportunity to talk to apprentices that had been organised actually on-the-job to talk to us and I wanted to come back because the feedback that we got when we went around all over the country talking to apprentices is what has developed Labor’s apprenticeship policy so its directly reflected by the conversations that we had with people like many of you who are here today as apprentices.  There were some very strong messages about the pressures on apprentices and the difficulty of completing your apprenticeship when you don’t have your own tools or you have to travel to do block study and you have all the costs involved with that or just the cost of living expenses. A lot of apprentices live independently and have rent, they might have family, and apprentice wages are tough to live on for four years.  So today Labor has announced that we will reinstate the Tools For Your Trade program that the Abbott government abolished in 2014. That will mean $3,000 over the term of an apprenticeship in four lots of $750. The first one after six months the next one after 12 months recognising that the first year is when you have all your set up costs. It is also there not just to help with the costs of doing your apprenticeship but also an incentive to continue on and complete so there is a final payment on completion again of another $750 four of them all up.  We believe in the apprenticeship system as an excellent pathway to good jobs. We have seen the federal Liberal government cut $1 billion in support out of apprenticeships and their only answer in this most recent budget was some four month internship where you had to work for about an additional $4 an hour. They should be investing in apprenticeships, that’s a real pathway, that’s a real career and we are determined to do that.  That is our announcement today along with the fact that we are going to get back into supporting the Group Training Program, I don’t know how many of you are employed by a Group Training organisation here today but they’ve been really important because they provide an opportunity for small and medium businesses to participate in apprenticeships and the government, when Abbott was elected, again they cut back and eventually abolished it so there is not support and we will be reinstating that.  I was talking to somebody here who is doing a pre-apprenticeship course. Bill Shorten and I at the beginning of this week announced that there will be 10,000 new pre-apprenticeship places funded by Labor delivered in our TAFEs across the country to give people a good fighting chance to be competitive to get an apprenticeship as well as 5,000 places - when I was here with Libby I met an apprentice who’d been laid off by one of the big recent lay-offs around the area and he had undertaken to do an apprenticeship - we want to see more of that so we are also creating 5,000 places for retrenched workers to be able to access a fast track apprenticeship recognising that they have already developed lots of skills in the work that they have been involved in. Across the board we are absolutely committed to seeing apprenticeships reinvigorated again. We have lost 120,000 places across Australia, it is crazy and we want to see that turned around and reversed.  We are here of course, with a fantastic BBQ thanks to all the Unions and the Gordon TAFE for their support here, because it is National TAFE Day and TAFE is one of our most significant, important national assets. It’s clear that people come from around the world to study in Australia our TAFE system and apprenticeship system because we do it so well and yet this government is determined to dismantle it. It’s an unbelievably stupid way to go.  Last year on National TAFE Day Bill Shorten and I announced a funding guarantee to ensure that TAFE is able to continue in regions, like we are here in Geelong, to make sure it is there for communities and remains strong and our dominant provider doing all the things that a great public provider do. Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals don’t like anything, I think, that is public and we know that that is a real sign of quality and dedication and that is why we need our TAFEs to be strong.  On National TAFE Day we are confirming our commitment to that funding guarantee as well so thank you so much for your interest and dedication. I know we’ve got people from the CFMEU, the ETU, the AEU are all here expressing their support because they absolutely understand how important TAFE is and all of the apprentices, I can only say to you I hope you are in your apprenticeship for long enough to see a Labor government elected on the 2 July and the delivery of those payments coming along to you. Also congratulations on great decisions and real commitment and my very best wishes to each of you in the future as well.  I might ask Libby to just talk about how it is going at the local level. She’s just a great candidate and I really want to see her with me in Canberra after the 2 July.  COKER: Sharon Bird is the Shadow Minister for Vocational Education and we stood in Geelong only a few months ago and we talked about the need for supporting apprenticeships, our construction industry and also TAFE. Sharon is back today with this announcement and I think that shows that Labor is actually very committed to our region. We know we have seen the loss of Ford, we’ve got ALCOA gone, Target’s gone these are job creators and what we want to see is apprenticeships supported so you can actually go out there and get that job.  This is a sign from Labor to you that we will invest in apprenticeships, as Sharon said, $3,000 for the Tools For Your Trade to help you and to actually inspire others to step in and do an apprenticeship but also we do know that under the Liberal government, under Sarah Henderson’s watch, we’ve seen 1,500 apprenticeships lost to this region, that is a significant number. If we are going to be a nation of jobs and growth we need to invest in apprenticeships and in industry that help people to get work.   I would like to thank Sharon for being here today and thank all of you and just wish you all the very best. With a Labor government you will be better supported and you will have the opportunity to work, so thank you very much for coming here today.   ENDS      

Transcript - ABC Illawarra - Apprentices, 15 June 2016

E&OE TRANSCRIPT ABC ILLAWARRA WEDNESDAY 15 JUNE, 2015   SUBJECT/S: Apprentices  JOURNALIST: In a way you can do that with you new career as some apprentices, or people who would like to do an apprenticeship can get a taster of several kinds of trades and finally choose the one that suits them and commit to it.  This is one of the ideas put forward by the Federal Labor Party and we have the Federal Member for Cunningham, who is also the Shadow Minister for Vocational Education, Sharon Bird, who joins us now here at ABC Illawarra, good morning…  BIRD:           Good morning Nick.  JOURNALIST: How’s this going to work?  BIRD:           This is a really important initiative I announced with Bill Shorten yesterday. What we have seen in the last, a bit over two years, under this government is the loss of about 120,000 apprentices across Australia. It is over a quarter of all apprentices and this is, we think, a really devastating outcome, we need apprenticeships. Firstly we know it’s a really good pathway to good jobs and good careers and secondly we need skilled workers. We need to make sure that we have those people in places that the economy and different sectors that have a demand for skilled workers.  What we announced was that, a lot of employers have said they would take on an apprentice but they have this problem they put them on, the apprentice is there for a couple of months, they discover it is not really what they wanted to do, it wasn’t what they thought it would be and they leave. Employers say this is very disruptive and they have been put off putting on apprentices. So the idea of this program is that young, unemployed people could go to TAFE for about 20 weeks and they would get some work ready skills and have some skills of being in the workplace but just as importantly they get a taste of a number of trades so they can work out which one they have a real talent for and a real interest in. At the end of the course when an employer puts them on they know that that apprentice already understands the basics of that sector and what will be required of them and we think that is a good way to provide, particularly in areas like ours with high youth unemployment, a good pathway for that young person and a good outcome for that employer who knows that they are getting somebody ready to go and commit to the apprenticeship.  JOURNALIST: So how does it work from the student’s point of view? What will the experience be like?  BIRD:           Its targeted at anybody who has been unemployed for more than six months, so probably already been out there trying to get a start, trying to get themselves an apprenticeship and haven’t been having any success. That may be because maybe their skill level is not quite ready or they haven’t indicated an understanding of the sector but they can apply to the local TAFE who can run the course.  They go along to TAFE for 20 weeks, they do a number of industry approved courses, things about being in the workplace, workplace health and safety and things like that and then they will do three or four different trades. Now we saw this, Bill and I were in Queensland last week and there was a school group doing this, a group of young women, because the TAFE up there was trying to get more women into trades. They did painting, tiling and they did plastering. They did those three trades and we met a couple of apprentices who had done that at school and were now in their second year of their apprenticeship.  That is how it would operate. Our idea is that it’s for people obviously who are unemployed, post school, and at the end of the course we fund a TAFE person to work with them and to then work with employers to get them placed into a full-time apprenticeship. So the employers will get an additional $1,000 incentive to take those young people on into the apprenticeship.  JOURNALIST: How can this work? Is this only going to work through TAFE or would private providers be able to do this kind of taster technique?  BIRD:           We’ve decided with this program only to run it through TAFE. The importance here is that you have to have the capacity to give access to a range of trades and so our TAFE’s are well set up with all their workshops, their different sections like hospitality, engineering and all the different sections in one place so that they can get that real range of experiences that they might be looking for.  JOURNALIST: I know as part of your announcements on TAFE you were saying you were going to rid the VET sector of dodgy operators and deliver a funding guarantee to ensure TAFE remains strong. How are you going to do that? Or at least any better than the Liberal party are doing?   BIRD:           We’ve made it very clear, in fact Bill announced on National TAFE Day last year and we are about to have National TAFE Day this year, so nearly a year ago that we feel the pendulum has swung much too far towards the private sector and it is impacting on our TAFE system. We think TAFE should be strong and a dominant provider in the sector because firstly it is a public provider, so it has additional responsibilities and communities need that and secondly it is a good standard setter because it’s a pubic provider, it’s not there to make a profit, it tells us a good idea of what quality looked like what a reasonable price looks like and so forth.  Our TAFE funding guarantee is based around the fact that the federal government’s and state government’s fund the sector. The federal government puts in about $3 billion a year in and the states combined about $4 billion and so we are going to use the COAG process to get a definition of what the role of TAFE is describe exactly what we expect it to do and then direct guaranteed funding to enable it to do that job and that is to make sure that we continue to see TAFE strong into the future.  In terms of the private sector there are some great private providers out there, there always has been, and they have our support but we do know that there has been some really shonky, unethical, rip offs going on and we are not willing to tolerate that continuing. JOURNALIST: OK but on the other hand have some reasonably reputable providers of education being punished by getting their funding taken away? Has the brush been too broad?  BIRD:           What we have announced is that we will have a cap on the amount of the loan that students can access so, at the moment there is no cap, other than a lifetime one of about $97,000. What you have seen is some course priced simply because that cap is not there so, for example to do a Diploma in Hairdressing at a TAFE under $7,000 it was being provided by some private providers at over $25,000. We just think that is price gouging and that is not fair and reasonable so we have put a cap of $8,000 per student, per year on the loan and if there is a course that is genuinely very expensive to run the providers can put a case and can get an exemption.  We think that is really important because people, quite honestly, sometimes these organisations, their completion rate is less than five percent but the vast majority of those 95 per cent of those that didn’t complete still had a big debt but that is not a good system and we can’t continue to allow that to happen.  JOURNALIST: Alright. Sharon Bird thanks for talking to us this morning.  BIRD:           Thanks Nick.    ENDS

Bill Shorten - Transcript - Doorstop - Perth - Tuesday, 14 June 2016

E&OE TRANSCRIPT DOORSTOP PERTH TUESDAY, 14 JUNE 2016 SUBJECTS: Labor’s plan for good jobs through apprenticeships; GST; Constitutional recognition; media access for offshore facilities; Liberal Party donations; health funding; renewable energy. BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everybody. It's great to be at EMC, Emergency Made Clean. This company is a real success story. I came here one and a half years ago and there were eight people, now there is 64. They are delivering jobs of the future and employing apprenticeships. In many ways, this remarkable company and its remarkable staff join the dots of the Labor story in this election about jobs. It's a combination of backing renewable energy, making sure you have great access to world class NBN, it’s also about making sure we stand up for apprenticeships and a strong TAFE system. So today I and Sharon Bird are very keen to announce extra expansion for the training of pre-apprentice positions and for assisting mature age workers to take up apprenticeships in relevant occupations. In the last three years under the Liberal Government, there has been 120,000 apprenticeships lost. I don’t think most Australians realise that we are in danger of losing our apprenticeship system in Australia. There is a crisis. Now more than ever, we need to back in apprenticeships. Under the Liberals they simply don't care about apprenticeships. Under Labor, we do care about apprenticeships, and we are willing to show leadership. You cannot be a party of jobs unless you are a party of apprenticeships. You cannot be serious about jobs unless you are serious about apprenticeships and Labor is most definitely serious about apprenticeships, TAFE and our training system for apprentices. That's why Labor is going to increas e by 10,000 the number of pre-apprenticeship training spots and we are going to provide another 5000 mature age workers with a chance to take up an interest in an apprenticeship. For me it's all about jobs, but it's about practical decisions which help deliver jobs. Australian apprenticeships are actually great at two levels - they benefit the apprentice, the individual, but they benefit industry. We cannot afford another three years of Liberal neglect on apprenticeships because we may well have nothing left at the end of that time. I should also say before I hand over to Sharon and Jason to talk about aspects of today's great news on apprenticeships, that our pre-poll starts right across Australia. It is estimated perhaps between 30-40 per cent of Australians may vote between now and 2 July. I will be down at Tim Hammond’s pre-poll position. Tim Hammond is Labor’s candidate for Perth. This election is clearly, as I've said from day one, is a matter of choices, and now Australians start to choose. They can choose Mr Turnbull's $50 billion tax giveaway to large companies, banks and foreign shareholders, or they can choose Labor's great plans for jobs, for education, for Medicare. Today I'll be saying to people at the pre-poll, vote Labor if you want to protect Medicare, vote Labor if you want a royal commissions into our banking sector, vote Labor if you want to make sure we have well-funded childcare, vote Lab or if you want to make sure our schools are well resourced, that kids can go to TAFE and university, and mature age workers can get a chance to re-train. Vote Labor if you want to promote Australian jobs and Australian apprenticeships. Thank you very much. Now I would like to hand over to Sharon and then Jason. SHARON BIRD, SHADOW MINISTER FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION: Thanks, Bill. Look, I want to start today by thanking the very many apprentices, employers, and unions across Australia who have taken time over the last two years to talk to me about what we need to do to support our wonderful, internationally recognised apprenticeship system. It was clear in the first Abbott Budget when you saw the axe taken to apprentice programs, a billion dollars cut out and the implications  of that flow through over the two years with the loss, as Bill said, of over 120,000 apprenticeship in training opportunities. So one of the things that a lot of employers have said to me is that they are keen to take on an apprentice but often they find the person is not ready for an apprenticeship. For one reason or another they've missed out on skills or have a vague idea about what the apprenticeship is but don't understand it in detail. For employers it's a big ask to put somebody on and disappointing, as happens too often, if after a couple of months they say this is not for me and not what I want to be doing. I've seen good programs run in places where people go along and get in effect a trade taste of program. They do some training around work-ready skills and what the workplace will be like, but they also have a taste of a variety of trades within an industry sector. In fact Bill and I, last week in Brisbane, met a great group of young women who were doing a range of trades in the construction sector. They were doing plastering, tiling and painting. We met an apprentice who had come directly out of that program, a young woman in her second year. These are really important programs for giving all of those young people an opportunity to assess what they should be doing, what would be a good career for them, but they also give the employer confidence that when they put them on that they really understand what it is they're undertaking and they're ready to go. Part of this announcement today with the 10,000 apprenticeship placement program being run through our TAFE system, is that we will also have an incentive to employers of an additional $1000 incentive payment to take those people on when they've finished their course. And put another 10,000 young people on a really great path to a good career and a good job. The second announcement we're making also reflects what people have told me. I've just met an apprentice here today, he's a mature age apprentice who has done a career change. It's really common now, and the reality is that many people in areas across the country where there's significant restructuring happening in industry, you've got people who have got years if not decades of great skills and knowledge working as trades assistants or production workers, and then when they get retrenched, they'd really like to retrain into a trades career.< /span> So what this program does is feed into that an opportunity for them to have their skills and knowledge assessed, so we have a good idea of what they're already capable of doing, to talk to them about where the emerging opportunities are, great facilities like we're at today, and to get them the apprenticeship that would match that and set them up for those jobs on a fast track. And we did this in the previous Labor government, we ran a pilot exactly doing this, retraining workers. Most of them were able retrain within 18 months. That's an important thing for mature age people because they're probably paying rent and mortgages and they have families. A 4-year apprenticeship can be an impost, able to do that in a shorter time period is a good initiative. There will be 5000 of those positions targeted across areas that really need that support. I know it will be really well subscribed by mature age worker s who are really keen to get into the new fields. Labor is backing apprenticeships and our announcement last year of leveraging infrastructure to have one in ten of those jobs be an apprenticeship and making sure the pipeline works for those apprenticeships for young people and for mature workers who are being restructured. I think it is a fantastic indication that we are serious about trades training. We understand innovation, jobs and growth actually mean something for people in the trades and vocational areas which has been completely neglected by this government. They've done nothing new in it but reduce funding and take money out each time. That is failing a whole lot of not just young people, but mature age people as well. JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Thank you. Fast broadband creates jobs. We saw that yesterday in Western Sydney. See that today in Western Australia. For many businesses broadband is now as important as electricity is. Imagine if you are running a business and you don't have access to electricity. For many businesses not having access to broadband is exactly the same thing. It makes it harder to do business. Malcolm Turnbull promised at the last election that everyone in Australia, all businesses in Australia, would have access to the NBN by the end of in year. The sad fact is he's failed miserably. Less than 20 per cent of Australia has access to the NBN right now. Here in the seat of Cowan, you will find that the rollout of Malcolm Turnbull's second-rate fibre to the node hasn't started yet. In the seat of Hasluck, only a handful of people have access at all. In the seat of Swan,&n bsp;people who live in Ascott, more than 10,000 residences and businesses there again don't have access to the NBN. Malcolm Turnbull has failed the people of Perth, failed the people of Western Australia and failed the people of Australia miserably on the NBN. But there is a silver lining here because the announcement we made yesterday that we would roll out fibre to the home to up to two million more homes and businesses, means that tens of thousands of premises in those electorates and electorates like them in Australia now stand to get fibre to the home, instead of Malcolm Turnbull's slower copper version of the NBN, if Bill Shorten and Labor win the election on 2nd July. SHORTEN: Thanks Jason, any questions? I might go local first. JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, there's been a difference of opinion between the Premier and the Prime Minister today on how GST is carved up. The Premier says that the Government alone can just decide to make a change to how GST is distributed and the Prime Minister says it requires an agreement among the states. What's your understanding as to how that works? Do you agree that WA is getting a raw deal on GST and what would you do to fix that? SHORTEN: Thank you for the three questions, mate. Firstly I don't know what the disagreements are between Colin Barnett and Malcolm Turnbull, but I have no doubt that Malcolm Turnbull doesn't want to be seen with Colin Barnett, because there are issues here in Western Australia which show Liberal neglect, both at the state and the national level. In terms of the GST allocation, it is far preferable to do it through the agreement of the states, but if the Federal Government wanted to do something, well, I can see what Colin Barnett is saying as well. So really, in the case of the blame game, here we have a Liberal Prime Minister and a Liberal Premier trying to blame each other. I think the truth is they're both right in that they're both at fault here. In terms of how we properly fund and give Western Australia a square deal, it's only the Labor Party who’s proposing to fund Perth Metronet, to deal with the real public transport congestion issues, rather than the discredited Perth freight link proposition. It’s only Federal Labor who’s fronting up to say to the parents of Western Australia, we want every child in every school to be able to get the proper funding and resources to ensure they get the best start in life. It's only Federal Labor, coming here, talking about providing certainty for the renewable energy industry, which means that really successful companies like EMC can go even further, better and faster and employ more people, especially engineers and blue-collar workers. It's only Labor who’s fronting up to Western Australians and saying that we will make sure we put the investment in your healthcare system so tha t healthcare outcomes for people of Western Australia are comparable to every part of the federation. We will take a consultative approach on all issues when it comes to state-federal relations and we will absolutely work with the state government of whatever political persuasion to make sure they get a fair deal. What we will also do in the meantime, is properly invest in the infrastructure, the education, the healthcare, jobs and renewable energy which I think this state could be a real leader in, in the future. JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, the Prime Minister said that your comments about the treaty are disappointing and that they also add a level of uncertainty and they put the process around constitutional referendum at risk. What do you make of those comments and what exactly are you calling for when saying there needs to be a debate about having a treaty? SHORTEN: Well, first of all Mr Turnbull's comments are complete rubbish. Yet again he wants to talk about Labor because he’s got no plans of his own. But I want to be really serious here about constitutional recognition. I worked with Tony Abbott on constitutional recognition and I've worked with Malcolm Turnbull on constitutional recognition. I believe that our nation’s birth certificate, our constitution, should reflect and include our first Australians, anything less than that is unacceptable. I offer bipartisanship to Mr Turnbull. Next year is the 50th anniversary since the 1967 referendum, which achieved long overdue change and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. 50 years on, this nation I believe is ready to recognise our first Australians in the constitution and make that necessary reform.   So, we say to Malcolm Turnbull, whenever and wherever you want to meet, whenever and where ever we can work out what the question should be, whenever and where ever, ideally next year, which is the 50th anniversary, we can conclude the matter of constitutional recognition. Mr Turnbull shouldn't politicise this issue and furthermore, going to the second part of your question, this nation has been grappling with the equal treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders since 1788. We haven't got it right yet. The fact that your skin colour is a more likely predictor in parts of Australia of whether or not you will get a custodial sentence or not is unacceptable. And I don’t think most Australians are aware of that or think that should be the case. For too long there's been the wars between whether should you have symbolic recognition or should you have practical reconciliation. I actually think both are important. I thought that when Kevin Rudd did the apology, I thought that was excellent. I think constitutional recognition is another very important step in reform. But what I'm not going to do is ignore the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I don’t know how much effort Mr Turnbull has put into constitutional recognition of our First Australians, but in my journey of understanding on these issues, there’s a lot of younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who say that’s all fine and good Bill, constitutional recognition and reform, but what about the real problems, the other problems that we encounter? And certainly, I’ve been taking a lot of good advice from the father of reconciliation amongst others, Sen ator Pat Dodson, about how we can have a better post-constitutional reform process, a settlement to finally ensure that we are on a genuine path to ensure that Aboriginal Australians enjoy that same outcomes as non-Aboriginal Australians and I will be up for that conversation. But I know, through getting out and about with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and many other people interested in the betterment and equal treatment of our First Australians, that just simply pretending the constitutional recognition reform, what have you, on its own is the answer to all the problems, it isn't. It is a necessary prerequisite but it is not the whole solution and that's why I'll keep listening to the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, in that, though, the one important thing you haven't said is do you support a treaty? SHORTEN: I am up for the conversation on a treaty, absolutely, but what I'm not going to do is impose paternalistic top-down solutions. The truth of the matter is, I encourage you to have conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people who are concerned about the welfare of their families and just understand the constitutional reform, dealing with some of the clauses in our constitution to finally recognise the presence of our First Australians, that is fundamentally important, but let me tell you if you're not aware, there is a level of cynicism amongst parts of the Australian community that somehow constitutional reform in and of itself will deliver all the other outcomes. It is very important and Mr Turnbull knows better than to throw rocks and try to muddy up the issues. He knows and he should know better, that there's complete bipartisanship in terms of reform to the constitu tion but what he also perhaps needs to understand is we need to close the gap in life expectancy. We need close the gap in terms of incarceration rates. We need to close the gap in terms of education, housing and employment. And so, I for one am not going to tell Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people what they're allowed to talk about, what they're allowed to put on the agenda. The way I would govern this country is to listen to all people and then harness the good will of this nation and make sure that at last we can achieve equal treatment for all Australians regardless of the colour of their skin. Continue reading

Bill Shorten - Transcript - Doorstop - Adelaide - Tuesday, 7 June 2016

E&OE TRANSCRIPT DOORSTOP ADELAIDE TUESDAY, 7 JUNE 2016 SUBJECTS: Labor’s planto boost apprenticeships across the country; Preferences; Visit to storm-damaged areas of NSW; Child Care Rebate; CFA. BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everybody. Before I turn to our announcement about apprenticeships, I'd like to again relay our support and thoughts for the people that have been dreadfully affected by the terrible storms lashing eastern Australia. In particular, my thoughts are with the families of people who have been lost or people who are missing. And of course, our concerns of the people whose businesses have been damaged or homes have been inundated and we see again the uncertainty of whether or not people will be able to return to their own homes. It is why after this announcement I will be heading to Sydney, to Coogee, to see the damage, to be briefed by the SES coordinators and also to thank the volunteers and the professionals working so hard to alleviate the pressure. I think it's something special about our country, that even in the midst of an election, both Mr Turnbull and I understand that there are things more important when crisis hits than the day-to-day political rancour. This is a moment where the whole nation supports people in trouble. I think it is fair to say that in the worst of times, we see the best of Australia. And I look forward to seeing and working with the volunteers and thanking them on behalf of many Australians. I would like to briefly turn to this morning's planned announcement. Labor is committed to supporting, creating and maintaining fair dinkum jobs in this country. We are committed to boosting apprenticeship numbers. Labor, if elected on July 2, will make sure that we create real jobs, real skills, real apprenticeships. It is pretty impressive to come here to TAFE South Australia, and to meet young men and women who are pursuing a love of a trades qualification, and the skills which will set these people up for life. Young people in this country sometimes get a bit of a raw deal in terms of the way they are portrayed. There are over 600 apprentices, and indeed adults retraining as apprentices, who are absolutely determined to secure the skills so they can make a contribution, not only to their own livelihoods but to the nation. I'm really pleased that we are able to say today that if elected, Labor will insist u pon a proportion of apprentices being employed on Commonwealth-funded work, specifically on the top 10 projects which will be funded by the Concrete Bank, we will want to see one in every 10 employees being apprentices. We want to make sure, for projects which have a capital expenditure of over $10 million, that we sit down with the States and Territories and make sure a proportion of the jobs are going to apprentices. In the last three years under the Liberal Party, Australia has lost 120,000 apprenticeships. We've seen major cuts to training budgets and we have seen a blow-out in vocational education, private sector rorts and scams. Labor wants to swing the pendulum back to TAFE, Labor wants to see the pendulum swung back to encouraging the employment of apprentices. We are committed to real jobs and real skills and that is why we are going to back real apprenticeships. I would like to ask my hard working Shadow Minister Sharon Bird to talk further about the detai l of our exciting new announcements to put apprenticeships at the front of our plan for jobs. SHARON BIRD, SHADOW MINISTER FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION: Thanks Bill. Labor has had a long history with apprenticeships. We deeply understand how significant a pathway they are for young people looking to get a good quality job, based on high-skilled training. It's also the case, as we walked around here today, we met a lot of mature age apprentices. People who are retrenched or looking to re-enter the work force, now increasingly see an apprenticeship as a really viable way for them to get a start. The sad reality for many of those young people, retrenched workers, people seeking to re-enter the workforce, is that under this Government they have given absolutely no attention to the skills portfolio. They have rolled through four ministers, they have done nothing but reduce the funding in every Budget and MYEFO, and they have no answer to the fact they have lost 120,000 apprentices in training. It is an abysmal failure for a party that wants to talk about jobs and growth to be absolutely failing in this area. So I am really pleased, with Bill Shorten today, to say a Shorten Labor Government will get back into the business of using its leverage, through its investment in infrastructure, construction, development, to making sure that gives an opportunity to invest in the skills of our people as well. One in 10 employees being an apprentice will significantly increase the opportunities for those people who are looking for it. It is also, I want to say, really a great pleasure to be here at TAFE. We have, nearly a year ago now, committed to a TAFE funding guarantee because these sorts of facilities are not cheap. They really require investment, and if you want the high quality training that these apprentices are getting, the TAFEs have been there for decades to deliver that. They keep it updated. They are high quality providers. We want to make sure that continues to exist. The Government never talks about TAFE, we will. We have the TAFE fun ding guarantee to make sure we have a strong TAFE into the future. Labor understands quality jobs. It understands quality skills and part of that commitment is our announcement today about an apprentice advocate at the Federal level, responsible for promoting apprenticeships, securing the quality guarantees. I am sure many of you know our apprentices travel internationally, they are snapped up. The world comes here to study how we do this stuff. We want to keep that quality there. That apprentice advocate will have that role. Finally, an apprentice portal on the Australian Apprenticeships website. People can go on and search in their local area, see what the opportunities are, get connected to jobs that are available and really make sure there is no reason for them to miss out if this is the pathway they are looking for. It is a great announcement. I really appreciate the support of Bill and the whole team because I think for many, many communities, they are talking to me about TAFE and apprentices hips constantly and it is a really important issue for them. Continue reading