Speech: Education funding

Speech: Education funding Main Image

Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (11:38):  I am pleased to have the opportunity today to talk about the government's record on education. Education is something I am passionate about for many reasons, but largely because of the many wonderful students I have spent time with over the years. I want to start by also acknowledging the hard work that all year 12 students on the New South Wales South Coast have put in over their years of schooling. I wish them the very best of luck in their exams and in whatever path they may choose to take next.

I recently had the pleasure of attending graduation ceremonies at Kiama High School, Nowra Anglican College and TAFE's IPROWD students. I went along to the Clontarf Foundation academy's opening at Vincentia High School. This week I am very excited to welcome school students from Callala and Moruya public schools to Parliament House. I look forward to seeing them later in the week.

I always love talking with students about their hopes and dreams for the future. I would also agree wholeheartedly with this motion that the work of teachers is invaluable. Teachers are invested in their students. They live the highs and the lows with them. They want to see them succeed and they push themselves hard to help their students reach their full potential. That is why I am so passionate on this topic. I used to be a TAFE teacher.

I was invested in the students in my outreach classes. I was invested in my students in my pre-apprenticeship courses. I was invested in them all, and I still am. That is why I can talk passionately about the government's record on education but not the record the member for Curtin wants us to believe.

The Liberals have cut $14 billion from schools. They have cut $3 billion from TAFE and training. Teachers are being asked to do more with less because of this government's record on education. Students are falling behind in reading, writing and maths because of this government's record on education. Schools are turning to GoFundMe pages to help them. Minnamurra Public School made an amazing video asking people to help them raise $14,000 for their new STEM lab. They wanted a STEMshare robotics kit, an iPad and a 3D printer—equipment to help them prepare for the jobs of the future. I think it is fantastic that the kids, their teachers and their parents put such great effort into this, but why should they have to?

At the last election, I committed an additional $400,000 to this school under Labor's schools plan. Under Labor, schools across my electorate would have been $21 million better off. But this government is not serious about properly funding education. The government is not serious about making sure children can reach their full potential. Students need the right equipment to gain the skills for 21st century jobs otherwise they will be left behind. We need to have targeted investment in schools, but this government has starved our education system through its cruel cuts.

Instead, what do young people in my electorate have to look forward to when they finish school? The highest youth unemployment rate in New South Wales, the lowest workforce participation rate in Australia, a 30 per cent drop in apprentice numbers from when this government was elected in 2013 until March 2018. That's not surprising. This is what happens when you cut all the pre-apprenticeship courses in our local TAFE campuses. When you remove the support for young people wanting to take up a trade and put your faith in celebrities rather than in funding, you cause a skills crisis, you end up with more apprentices dropping out of apprenticeships than finishing them.

Year 12 students graduating this year have the world at their feet. They are full of potential and full of hope for the future. I want to see them succeed. I want to see them go to TAFE and university and get a good job. I want to see them follow their dreams. This government needs to start investing in their future now. They need to reverse the successive cuts that have ripped the guts out of our education system. They need to fix the mess they made of TAFE and apprenticeship courses. They need to re-establish pre-apprenticeship programs. They need to properly fund our schools so that no child has to turn to GoFundMe just to get the basic equipment they need. Our young people need the government to invest in them, and I will continue calling out the government on their record in education so that our kids can get the start in life they deserve.