Release type: Transcript

Date:

LAFM Interview with Mike O'Loughlin

Ministers:

The Hon Alan Tudge MP
Minister for Education and Youth

Subjects: Budget funding for Child care, JobTrainer, lower house deposits, funding for women’s safety.

 

MIKE O’LOUGHLIN:

And Alan Tudge is the federal MP or Minister, if you will, for Education and Youth, in Tassie, I believe, to meet with child care and preschool stakeholders to discuss the recent budget announcements and guess, listen to the local sector. Alan Tudge. Good morning to you.

ALAN TUDGE:

Good morning, Mike.

MIKE O’LOUGHLIN:

Listen, welcome to Tassie. In the Federal Budget there, you’ve committed 2 billion to preschools in the Budget. What is Tassie’s share of that?

ALAN TUDGE:

Tassie’s share is about $43 million and that'll support about 7,000 pre-schoolers across Tasmania. And what it means is it's guaranteed funding for the first time of about $1340 for every single kid, that goes to preschool and that ensures that they get the best start possible in their education journey so that when they start schooling, they're going to be better prepared.

MIKE O’LOUGHLIN:

Now we know that Victorian families, they were cut off from taxpayer-funded child care support because their subsidies were used up during last year's lockdown when the kids had to stay at home. Now, I believe the Federal Government is now investigating that bungle, that's not going to happen here, is it?

ALAN TUDGE:

No, that's not going to happen here. What happened there, I'm from Melbourne - of the very long lockdown in Melbourne, and we kept the child care centres afloat by continuing the subsidy to those childcare centres just so they’d stay financially viable. What it meant though, for some families, and it's a relatively small number of families, is that they’ve now hit their subsidy cap, even if they didn't have their kids at child care for several months. So, we're looking into that. I want to see if we can fix this. In some respects, it’s a technical hiccup, as a result of trying to look after the child care sector last year during COVID and I've got an investigation underway.

MIKE O’LOUGHLIN:

Well, right now with child care in Tassie, where are we at with the Federal Budget’s out, you're here obviously; will you be writing some cheques, handing it out?

ALAN TUDGE:

Won’t be writing cheques. How it works with child care and there's thousands of families who send their children to child care, typical because both parents are working or if you're a single parent, you need to go to work. And what we've done in the Budget is committed a further $1.6 billion into the child care system, to make it a little bit more affordable for families, particularly if you've got two or more kids in child care because that's when the fees really start to add up. And it's going to make a big difference for those families. And we want to ensure that, particularly for women, if they want to go back to work, that they can afford to go back to work and that child care costs won't become a massive impediment to doing so.

MIKE O’LOUGHLIN:

In that regard, if I can, Minister, what is now the first step, now the Budget’s done and dusted federally, to deliver support to our schools as such? We need help there too.

ALAN TUDGE:

Yeah, that's true. So, our school funding is already locked in and it increases year after year after year. So, even in this Budget alone, the funding increases goes up by an extra few percentage points and every year thereafter will continue to go up above inflation – so it’s real increases -because we need to support our local kids. I've just been out at Ravenswood Primary School actually with Bridget Archer, the local member here in Launceston and it's a school, which is servicing a pretty high needs community but doing a great job there. And we're making sure that they've got the resources so that we can back the school leader in Jason Gunn and the teachers there so that they can give the best possible start in life to those kids.

MIKE O’LOUGHLIN:

What about the Federal Government, is it going to assist funding for TAFE? For example, new teachers’ facility upgrades, like new student accommodation, look, the list goes on.

ALAN TUDGE:

Yeah, TAFEs are really important. The training sector generally is very, very important. Now, the TAFEs are run by the state governments; we support the training sector overall, which includes the TAFEs and we’ve put considerable extra resources into those, including 450,000 new traineeships in this Budget. We want to ensure that people who want to up-skill or are leaving school and want to just get their skills up to go into a job, that they've got the capacity to do that. So that's a really big initiative in this Budget.

MIKE O’LOUGHLIN:

Also, I noticed that Tassie’s been given increased GST revenue to $846 million. So, obviously, some of that's going to have to be allocated into education and youth and I'm thinking more or less JobTrainer - $53 million for education, $10.5 for the extension of the JobTrainer program. Looking at the big picture, in the Budget, though, it doesn't sound like an awful lot when you consider the big figures.

ALAN TUDGE:

Just going back to the GST, we obviously support Tasmania with our GST allocation which you’ve outlined. That then goes to the state government and the state government determines where they will prioritise that funding. And often it is for the big costs which a state government such as schooling, such as the hospital system, the public transport system, and the roads - and that’s where they would expect that funding to go. Obviously the Gutwein Government has just been re-elected and we’re working very closely with them on their priorities. We want to work closely together to ensure that we can get the best possible outcomes in those areas where we have those joint responsibilities.

MIKE O’LOUGHLIN:

I also noticed several measures in the Federal Budget supporting first home buyers and the building industry. When will the measures start here in Tassie?

ALAN TUDGE:

Many of those measures are already ongoing. There's a specific measure, which is a, which is a great one in my view, Mike, which is to allow single parents to get into the housing market with only as little as a 2 per cent deposit. Because we know that sometimes as single parents you might be earning say, let's say, $70,000 or $80,000, and that if you actually get the loan, the loan repayments will be the same as what you're paying in rent. But it's getting that deposit together which is the real barrier. And so, we're making that assistance available to get the deposit together so that you can get into that home and have that stability. And, particularly if you're a sole parent, you want that stability for your kid, you can get the home, your repayments will be about the same as what your rent is, and then you can be on your way. So it’s a really important initiative and one which we're really proud of.

MIKE O’LOUGHLIN:

What about Federal Government helping in social housing? Because in Tasmania, that's a major issue with shortages.

ALAN TUDGE:

Yeah, I'm aware of that and we have ongoing funding for social housing - I can't remember what the figures are, Mike. But obviously, the lead responsibility for that is the state governments who build and own the social houses and we provide some assistance, but the majority provider of that is the state government.

MIKE O’LOUGHLIN:

Tell us about the Federal Government seeing that additional $21 million delivered for skills and training in areas currently experiencing pretty big shortages in Tassie like aged care, IT, and we’ve briefly discussed child care. Again, not huge numbers.

ALAN TUDGE:

Well, I mean nationally, it’s 450,000 additional spots - you break it down into the state by state as you have done there. But they're very significant numbers in the scheme of things. It's a very big investment from the Federal Government, and it will make a difference. We do know in some of those care sectors, particularly, that we will have shortages if we're not training up more people. In the child care sector, in aged care, in the disability sector all areas which we’ve put more money into the- in, from the Federal Budget’s perspective, it’ll- where we do need to train people up to make sure that those jobs can be filled. I would say to some of your listeners who are thinking about, maybe they're, maybe they’re working or they’re not in work at the moment and they're thinking about future careers, those opportunities are going to be there in those care sectors and you can make a real difference to people's lives, so think about those careers.

MIKE O’LOUGHLIN:

Also, I noticed the ScoMo’s Budget commitment to a further $1.1 billion to the women's safety package to address and prevent family and domestic violence. That certainly needs some support here in Tassie. It might sound a lot, but is it enough?

ALAN TUDGE:

So that's another very significant investment, Mike. Listen, we've got to do better on this front. There are too many women in particular who suffered domestic violence, often behind closed doors and unknown, and we need to able to talk about this, we need to uncover it, and we need to provide the assistance to be able to address it and to minimise this wherever possible and hopefully get it down to zero. So, it’s a big investment, it’s one of our very big priorities is to support women, make them feel safer, support them in their economic objectives too in terms of getting into the workforce if they want to do that. So, that’s a very big focus of what we’ve done in this particular Budget, Mike. 

MIKE O’LOUGHLIN:

Well, it’s good to see you’re actually in Tassie and I do hope you meet with more people locally and in the local sector. And find out what, you know on the ground, finding out what the real issues are and there’s an awful lot of them.

ALAN TUDGE:

Yeah. I think that’s exactly right and that’s what’s important for us, to get down to Tasmania. I’m here in Launceston today. I’m in Hobart tomorrow. I’m just about to meet with 20 odd child care and preschool providers and they’ll be able to tell me very directly what the issues are? How our new expenditure might help? And what more might need to be done in the future. And that’s exactly why I’m here.

MIKE O’LOUGHLIN:

Alan Tudge, Federal MP, Minister for Education and Youth, I thank you for your time this morning and enjoy Tassie.

ALAN TUDGE:

Thanks very much, Mike. All the best.

MIKE O’LOUGHLIN:

Good to talk to you.