Straight from the Senate - Issue 20

5.30pm | May 19, 2017



1. Today I chaired a Senate hearing in Townsville that heard evidence about public sector jobs in regional centres.

Despite being able to find an estimated $60 million to move 200 jobs to Barnaby Joyce's electorate, this government is pursuing cuts to public sector jobs in regional centres. Almost 18,000 jobs have been cut across the Department of Human Services, the Australian Tax Office and CSIRO, many in regional Australia. Here in Townsville, we heard that the job cuts had hurt the local community, who were worried about the thousands of additional public sector job cuts in the recent budget. This government can't claim to support our regions when its cutting jobs and has budget no money for its decentralisation plan. Australian’s deserve a proper plan for growing jobs in all of our regions, not just in the Deputy Prime Minister’s electorate.


This week I heard Labor’s Shadow Treasurer, Chris Bowen, deliver Labor’s budget reply address to the National Press Club.

Malcolm Turnbull said that the Government’s budget is about fairness, but nothing could be further from the truth. The budget introduces cuts to schools, universities and TAFE, maintains the freeze on the Medicare rebate, does not address housing affordability and gives a $65 billion tax handout to big business. In contrast, Chris Bowen outlined Labor’s plan to implement needs-based school funding, provide proper funding to universities and TAFE, support Australian apprentices, reverse the tax cuts to big business, and reform negative gearing and capital gains tax to make housing more affordable. You can read Chris Bowen’s full speech here.


The recent Coalition government delivered a resounding blow to Australia’s education system.

Malcolm Turnbull is cutting $22 billion from Australian schools. This will hit New South Wales public schools hard. Between 2018-2019:
- Albion Park Rail Public in Kiama will lose $625,266
- Bathurst West Public will lose $621,298
- Bellbird Public School in Cessnock will lose $355,289
- Bateman’s Bay Public will lose $1,165,993
- Wagga Wagga High will lose $839,304
- Epping West Public will lose $934,489.

A Labor government will restore the $22 billion the Coalition has cut from schools and implement a needs-based funding model.

On top of this, the Coalition is cutting $3.8 billion from Australian universities. Degrees will become more expensive and students will be required to pay them back sooner. This is despite Australian students already paying more of their university degrees than other comparable nations. Labor opposes any measures to make university students pay more, sooner.

This budget also announced more than $600 million worth of cuts to Australian TAFEs. This means NSW TAFEs will lose $165 million each year. In contrast, a Labor Government will invest in TAFE because we understand that failure to support TAFE is a failure to support jobs. Labor will establish a $100 million Building TAFE for the Future Fund so we can ensure regional communities have high quality TAFE facilities where students are trained to meet local industry needs. We will restore TAFE as the backbone of our skills and training system by guaranteeing two thirds of public funding for TAFE and we will set a target so that one in every ten workers on Commonwealth priority projects is an apprentice. We will also invest in pre-apprentice programs to help up to 10,000 young jobseekers start their apprenticeships, and we’ll establish an Advanced Entry Adult Apprenticeships program to fast-track apprenticeships for up to 20,0000 people who are facing redundancy or whose jobs have been lost.

This budget is making Australian students pay for Malcolm Turnbull’s company tax cuts. There is nothing fair about that.

In Labor,

Jenny McAllister