Without question, the issue that has occupied my electorate office since the handing down of the state budget earlier this month is the savage cuts to the TAFE sector. The telephone calls and emails from constituents about the impact of the cuts on the Gordon, the South West Institute of TAFE and the Otway Community College have been overwhelming. Even elderly members of the community have gone out of their way to come into the office to complain about what this government is doing to education and training.
At the very time that we should be ensuring that young people are provided with the skills to enter the workforce, that older workers are able to be retrained, that retrenched workers have new avenues for education and skills enhancement and that our communities are armed with the capacity to transition through an ever-growing and unpredictable set of economic circumstances, this government has chosen not to invest in skills and training. It has decided not to invest in our future.
Slashing $300 million from TAFE on top of the $480 million cuts to education prior to the budget beggars belief. To allow this destructive agenda to take hold, destroying the future of thousands of individuals and stunting the growth of this state and its ability to tackle the myriad industrial and wider economic challenges smacks of negligence. I implore the minister, Peter Hall, and the Premier to re-examine this issue. We must stop this act of vandalism now.