Labor will invest in Australia’s future workers while Turnbull fills funding cuts with foreign workers

Nicholas McCallum

MEDIA RELEASE: Friday May 11, 2018

Labor’s plan to prioritise 100,000 TAFE places is a welcome and long-overdue initiative for Australia’s skills training sector stuck in a death spiral after years of Liberal neglect and funding cuts.

Labor Leader Bill Shorten’s plan to reinvest in Australia’s future by waving the up-front fees for 100,000 TAFE students is a stark contrast to Treasurer Scott Morrison’s Budget that cuts a further $270 million from the system and looks to fill gaps with foreign workers.

Electrical Trades Union National Secretary Allen Hicks said there was a clear difference between Labor and the Liberals’ economic plans for Australia, because only Labor wanted to invest $470 million in local jobs and training across the country.

“We only heard one plan for Australia when it comes to the vital skills our country needs to build a prosperous future, and that came from Bill Shorten,” Mr Hicks said.

“Waving the up-front fees for 100,000 TAFE students is a positive step forward to help more Australians learn the apprenticeships and training Australian industry needs to thrive.

“Shorten’s plan is in stark contrast to Malcolm Turnbull, who has no plan and is taking no action despite two in five fewer people learning a trade since his Liberal Party took office – that’s 140,000 fewer people learning skills.

“Having a strong VET system and increasing apprentice numbers is absolutely vital to this country’s long-term prosperity.

“But sadly, the Turnbull Government is so far out of touch with the workers and young it’s neglecting it would rather bring in overseas workers on temporary visas to do the work at the expense of training young Australians,” Mr Hicks said.

The ETU National Secretary said the Turnbull Government’s cuts to TAFEs and the skills-training sector over the past five years, if continued, will inevitably push Australia towards a skills crisis.

“Malcolm Turnbull has allowed Australia’s skills and apprenticeship numbers to slide to brink of oblivion,” Mr Hicks said.

“And his plan is to say nothing, to cut TAFE funding further and allow for temporary workers to fill roles that our future trades men and women should be filling.”

Mr Hicks also said that Labor’s plan to have one in 10 jobs filled by an apprentice was what Australian industry needed to get young people working and learning vital skills for the future.

“After years of funding cuts, neglect and policy failings from both sides, the ETU is pleased to see Labor knows investing in TAFE and skills training is an investment in Australia’s future.

Mr Hicks said Labor and the Liberals have presented Australian workers with a clear choice between the country they want to see built for their children.

“This is a choice between an Australia under a Labor government where everyone will have the opportunity to learn a trade and get a good-paying, in-demand job.

“Or continue with anti-worker Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals, who would rather see Australian jobs filled by foreign workers on temporary visas, where multi-national corporations and banks are given $80 billion in tax cuts and people on $200,000 a year pay the same tax as someone on the minimum wage,” Mr Hicks said. 


Media enquiries:

ETU National Secretary – Allen Hicks

0419 721 037, [email protected]


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