Question Time – Trade Support Loans
Mr PITT (Hinkler) (14:54): There are currently 1,725 apprentices in my electorate of Hinkler. As a former TAFE student, apprentice and tradesperson, and on this National TAFE Day, I ask the Minister for Industry how the government’s trade support loans and plans for skills and training will provide opportunities for future students?
Mr IAN MACFARLANE (Groom—Minister for Industry) (14:54): I thank the Member for Hinkler or his question. It is great to see someone who has not only graduated from TAFE in his electorate but also gone out and had a real job, unlike many on the other side who have basically just been trade union officials. The Member for Hinkler has actually done a trade, gone out there and got his hands dirty and he is now doing an absolutely fine job representing the people of Hinkler. The member said in his maiden speech:
… without the opportunity to learn, you lose your ability to succeed.
Mr Husic interjecting—
The SPEAKER: The member for Chifley will desist.
Mr IAN MACFARLANE: That is a fine line from someone who knows how important it is to learn, to get your trade and to get out there and not only secure an income but also be part of the earning economy. We on this side of the House want to make sure that we are putting out from training institutions people that are job ready, able to contribute and have the training and the skills that industry needs. As of 1 July, we will be starting our trade support loans which will assist apprentices through the time they are in training.
Ms Rishworth interjecting—
The SPEAKER: The member for Kingston will desist.
Mr IAN MACFARLANE: This scheme is worth $1.9 billion over the forward estimates and will assist apprentices. Fourth year apprentices will be able to get up to $20,000. As we know, these loans are interest free. They will be indexed on 1 June each year and are interest free. These loans will see a 20 per cent discount to apprentices and certain skilled trainees once they graduate. That is what this scheme is all about. It is about assisting people on the way through their training so that they can meet their daily and weekly needs and giving them a bonus and an incentive when they have finished. We want to see these trainees and apprentices not only be supported but also have access to the best training institutions available. So we support the TAFE system. We support all the RTOs, as long as they provide a competitive and quality skills training system. We want to make sure that anyone, but young people particularly, embarking on a trade, like the Member for Hinkler did, has the opportunity to get the best possible qualifications. This government will support them every inch of the way with a trade support loan. We will be able to put more into this area once we get over the $1 billion a month we have to pay in interest because of the debt the previous government left us.