House debates

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Matters of Public Importance

Tertiary Education

3:58 pm

Photo of Joanne RyanJoanne Ryan (Lalor, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

The member for Fisher, who appears to have caught some aspiration in a street somewhere after he left Holmesglen TAFE, went on to become a lawyer, but he wants to lecture us in this place where I stand as the member for Lalor, a proud person who gave 27 years of her life to education in my local community. I spent 27 years working with the young people whom you are now ignoring. This government is responsible for the demise of aspiration in the suburbs. They are deadening aspiration every day.

I was pleased for several reasons to be asked to join the MPI today. First, they can't gag me here. Let's face it, we've had a day of being gagged, and the MPI is our only salvation. Second, I thought the third Minister for Education since I joined this place might join us for this matter of public importance focused on young people, aspiration and what this government might choose to deliver if they truly believe that what this country needs now is for us all to work together. Let's not forget that when we began on the road through this health crisis, we were all going to be in this together. Do you remember? 'We're all in this together'—we've heard it ad nauseam. What we heard today is the saddest thing I've heard in 30 years. We talk a lot in this place about recessions, technical recessions and projected recessions. Today we heard that 16.1 per cent of our eligible young people are unemployed. That is a moment, really, for this place to take stock. We said we were all in this together, but 16.1 per cent of our young people are not in this together. This government is leaving this afternoon having not delivered a plan for how those 16 per cent of young people are going to spend their days.

The Prime Minister said lots of things in question time. He was sad, but he didn't come up with a plan. We've now listened to three speakers from those opposite on the MPI. Not one of them mentioned a plan. The Minister for Education told us that he was very pleased that there'd been short courses introduced. He just forgot to mention today that they weren't funded. I know that what the young people I represent got today at that dispatch box was, 'Don't give up; keep trying.' While those opposite, who are here to represent electorates across the country, are going home this afternoon, kids in my electorate are going to be hearing: 'Just keep trying. Just keep trying. It's okay. We haven't got a plan for you.' I expected this week in this place a commitment to TAFE. I expected the Victorian state government to be supported to provide their free TAFE. I expected young people to actually be watching the news tonight and thinking, 'There is some hope'. But that's not what we've got.

What we've got is a government who don't care who are getting on planes tonight. 'Keep trying. Keep trying. Don't give up hope.' Do some research on what happens to people when they get disconnected from work. Let's be brutally honest while you haven't got a plan, while there is no plan in front of this parliament. They could be looking at up to five years of unemployment. That's what they're looking down the barrel at. Parents tonight are ringing young people and saying, 'We've heard the headline figures today on unemployment; how's your job going?' My son rang me today while I was in this place. I left a meeting to take a call from him, thinking: 'Oh, god; today's the day he's lost his job. It's finished.' He's been fortunate. He's worked every day up until now. I thought that call was to say he'd lost his job. It wasn't; it was to say he had been through an EBA meeting and he actually had some hope. I was thrilled that he's working for a company that are concerned about him. If he had lost his job today, do you know what my words to him would have been? 'Let's get you into a TAFE course, mate. What's next?' This government hasn't got a plan for my son or anybody else's son or daughter who got that news today. They're going to be sitting on their backsides or going to jobactive instead of retraining immediately. (Time expired)

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