Cuts to Trade Training Centres in Western Australia; 1 year anniversary of Abbott’s lie on education; Abbott Government’s cuts to education; Surrogate baby Gammy case


KATE ELLIS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: It’s fantastic to be here at Darling Range Sports College with Alannah MacTiernan, the Federal Member for Perth, the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Western Australia, and a champion for both young Australians and for this State. We stand here today at this college because we know that 173 Western Australian schools have now been identified as eligible for Trade Training Centres yet are never, ever likely to receive one as a result of the Abbott Government’s budget cuts.


We know that in Western Australia where youth unemployment has averaged over 10 per cent this year, we need to be tackling skills shortages, we need to be investing in young Australians, and we need to be doing everything we can to ensure these young people have the best opportunities in the future. Yet, this new evidence shows that in 173 schools young Western Australians will not be given the opportunities they previously would’ve.


What this clearly shows is that the Abbott Government’s budget cuts are hitting our schools and hitting our schools already. Yet sadly, we already know the worst is yet to come. Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott bragged about $80 billion in cuts to schools and hospitals in their recent Budget. And we now know through new analysis that some $3.15 billion will come directly out of Western Australian schools like this one. Now we stand here where the local member, Ken Wyatt, needs to come out and fight for Trade Training Centres at this school and schools like it, and fight to fill the $3.15 billion gap that his Government’s Budget have left here for these students and for this community.


Young Western Australians should not have to pay the price of the Abbott Government’s lies. We know that it will not save a cent in the long run to cut the opportunities and cut the education that young Western Australians deserve. It will cost more in the long run. And that’s why we’re calling on this Government to drop their short-sighted, stupid cuts to education and to honour the commitment that they made a year ago that they were on a ‘unity ticket’ when it came to education. And I will hand over to Alannah to add to that.


ALANNAH MACTIERNAN, SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Lots of West Australians are really concerned about some of the really harsh measures in the Budget that affect young people: measures that see young people being ineligible for the unemployment benefit for six months no matter how hard they are trying to get work. What people understand is that we need to ensure that we’ve got a system in place where these young kids can gain the skills at these Trade Training Centres in a perfect way to really make these young people job ready. Yet what we see is Mr Abbott is cutting these Trade Training Centres, he’s cutting the tool allowances for apprentices, cutting out numerous programs that are there to help young unemployed people get into work. So all we see is a system that now is focused so much on punishing young people. And all of those positive measures that are aimed to make kids, our young Western Australians job ready are being ditched. This is just completely unacceptable. We need these Trade Training Centres. They are what really gives us that capacity to get young people ready to go and take up skilled jobs that we need in Western Australia.


JOURNALIST: What do we know about this particular school that we’re in front of?


MACTIERNAN: Darling Range Sports College is one of these Government schools that has been shown on the list as being eligible for a Trade Training Centre. They had been working with two other local schools in the area to set up a trade training cluster. They absolutely recognise that they’ve got to create the opportunity for the young kids that go to this school, many of whom are not going to go on to university. Trade training is an important option for them that many want to pursue. So we had here a school actively pursuing the idea of a Trade Training Centre, and now unfortunately, as this program has been cut, they simply under the Abbott Government will have no opportunity to build that facility.


JOURNALIST: And Minister, what are you proposing? Do you think the money should be reinstated? What would you do?


ELLIS: Look I propose that Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne should keep to the word they made to the Australian public before the last election. They promised a unity ticket on education. They clearly stated that there’d be no cuts to education. Well there are $950 million in cuts just to the Trade Training Centre program. We know that this school and hundreds more schools around Australia will be affected by that. But worse yet, we saw that that was just the beginning, with $30 billion in cuts to school funding in this year’s Budget. We ask the Government to keep the word that they made to the Australian people, to stop lying, and start investing in our future and in our education system.


JOURNALIST: I’d like to move onto another topic. This child, surrogate (inaudible) Do you think that the Australian Government should be intervening in the case?


ELLIS: Look, I know that thousands of Australians have been deeply touched by the case of Gammy. It is a tragic case. And we’re learning more and more information which makes it all the harder to come to terms with. What I do believe is that we haven’t got all the facts. We need to make sure that we have all of the facts about what’s happened in this case and we need to focus about what is in the best interests of this child, and indeed in all children. I know that the Government have said they are looking into what can be done in this case. They are looking into citizenship for Gammy and a number of other measures. We would certainly support them looking into that. But I think it is far too early and there is far too much mixed information to start talking about law reform. Let’s start focusing on what’s in the best interests of this child and every other child.


JOURNALIST: What about removing the child from the care of his family down in Bunbury?


ELLIS: Look we’ve seen a lot of new information come to light today. What I know that I would advocate is that we look at what is in the best interests of this child as well as what is in the best interests of baby Gammy. I think we need to have a thorough look at this individual case as well as the wider ramifications of it. But ultimately, we all need to be focused on making sure that this child is given the greatest opportunity to succeed in life, and is in a happy, stable and loving family environment. Without knowing the detailed background to the case, I don’t know that we can be making more precise recommendations at this point. But I think everyone is focused on this child’s best interests.


JOURNALIST: Are you quite shocked at this case?

ELLIS: I am shocked and appalled by this case, as I know that hundreds of thousands of Australians are. This is a case that many people could not believe when it first came to light. And sadly, the more information that comes out, the more appalling this case appears to be. We need to get to the bottom of this. We need to make sure that these children are protected and loved. And we need to make sure that we don’t see more of these cases.