Fighting for Lilley apprentices and trainees

Ms WELLS (Lilley) (16:35): I always love it when the government brings up the instant asset cash write-off, because it's a proud policy initiative of the former member for Lilley during the Rudd government. I will pass along your compliments and your regards to him that his legacy endures in the House for the members of the government, such a good policy that it was.

It seems as though, over the last three years, the Prime Minister has done every single job but his own. He came to Geebung in my electorate of Lilley to hammer a nail into a piece of wood on an empty construction site. He washed a lady's hair in the member for Dunkley's electorate. He was a footy water boy. He's cosplayed a truck driver, a pilot and a race car driver. He's played at everybody's job but his own. He doesn't hold a hose, but he wants your kid to drive a forklift.

We also have a Treasurer who is more focused on trawling his opponent's websites to throw mud than to develop policies that will help the household budget of a working family in Boondall or Sandgate. A polite heads-up: it speaks volumes about this government and this Treasurer if he thinks that the vital infrastructure portfolio is not inextricably linked to economic development, economic management and the federal budget.

While the Prime Minister is gallivanting around the country trawling innocent shopfronts of the outer suburbs for photo opportunities, and the Treasurer busies himself on his little screen in the wee hours with dishonest and unhinged scare campaigns, ordinary working families in Australia are not getting a look in. The cost of living is skyrocketing. Real wages are going down. Forty per cent of young Australians have never had a permanent full-time job. This is the price that Australians are paying for a government that's been in office for a decade now—and, with a straight face, it's asking for a second.

The Prime Minister's failure to do his job has made it harder for northsiders living in my electorate of Lilley to make a decent living and find local, high-skilled, secure jobs of their own. At a time when productivity and wages are flatlining, vocational education and training have the potential to grow the economy and sustain the secure, well-paid jobs in Lilley. New data from the National Centre for Vocational Education has revealed that fewer trainees and apprenticeships are finishing their course than in previous years under Labor. In Lilley, 8,000 trainees and apprentices have finished their traineeship or apprenticeship under the last Labor government. But under the coalition, under this government, only 4,722 apprentices and trainees have finished their course over the same amount of time—that is, 3,278 fewer apprentices and trainees who have finished their course. That is a 41 per cent decrease in hairdressers, carpenters, fully-qualified electricians, mechanics and chefs on the northside.

This is not a coincidence or happenstance; it is a consequence of years of coalition cuts to federal TAFE and vocational training budgets. The Morrison government's 2021-22 federal budget slashed TAFE funding by 24 per cent. It really is just another example of the Morrison government failing young people. They are all spin and no action when it comes to jobs and training. Young people living on the northside need a genuine strategic plan so that they have the skills required for the jobs of the future in digital, new energy and advanced manufacturing. We know that that is the ticket to a lifetime of opportunity. And we know that vocational education graduates are valuable workers and contribute tens of billions of dollars to the economy each year. That is why an Albanese Labor government will invest 450,000 free TAFE places in sectors with critical skills shortages.

Manufacturing startups in my electorate like GEM Energy in Pinkenba, Triple Eight Race Engineering and Vaulta in Wavell Heights have demonstrated local businesses capability to innovate and produce goods that improve our quality of life, create new jobs and boost our economy. I recently visited the headquarters of Vaulta, which is a modest enterprise in Wavell Heights. The founder and director, Dominic Spooner, is on a mission to make batteries more recyclable by designing a reusable battery casing to create less waste and a lighter product. An Albanese Labor government will invest $15 billion in the National Reconstruction Fund to partner with businesses like these to rebuild industries and to create well-paid, secure jobs for all Australians.

According to a leak from the coalition party room this morning, the Prime Minister told his party that he was going to do his job and that they should do their job. It is revelatory stuff, nearly 10 years into the gig! And, as we speak, here in the House, we await the latest leak from the Morrison cabinet to air on tonight's news—the third cabinet leak in a week. Apparently the PM is preparing to sack one of his own ministers, and there are so many options! Which—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Vasta ): Order! The minister has the call.