MS TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (12:37): I rise to update the chamber on how free TAFE is helping to provide a skilled pipeline of workers that we need now and in the economic recovery from the COVID pandemic. As this house knows, free TAFE has been incredibly successful. It has broken down barriers that stop people from accessing courses. It has encouraged more Victorians to study in courses that lead to a job. In Ballarat this includes Ballarat Gold Mine. I recently met Laura, an electrical apprentice who started her pathway through free TAFE. Last year she enrolled in a certificate II in electrotechnology, which helped her find her passion. But not only that, Laura topped the class. Federation TAFE helped Laura find an apprenticeship pathway at the Ballarat Gold Mine. Laura is loving her new job. And I note that the Ballarat Gold Mine has hired three new apprentices—the first time in 10 years.
This government is very proud of its support for apprentices. I have consistently raised the importance of apprenticeship support on numerous occasions with the federal government, so I was very pleased to see that their recent budget provides for a wage subsidy for new apprentices and trainees. However, Victoria is disappointed that the commonwealth has not guaranteed Victoria its fair share of the 100 000 apprenticeships under the wage subsidy scheme. In addition, we call on the federal government to ensure that rorting under the scheme is prevented, as has happened under similar schemes in the past. I will keep fighting for Victoria to receive its fair share under this initiative and ensure that it has quality and integrity embedded in the scheme.