National TAFE Day - Geelong, Gordon TAFE



16 JUNE 2016 



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.