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Minister Birmingham comments about basket weaving TAFE course causes social media storm
Simon Birmingham’s attempt to be smugly dismissive of Labor’s budget-reply commitment to TAFE funding has set off a social media storm, with thousands of TAFE graduates showing their support for TAFE and the positive effect their qualifications have had on their lives and careers.
In the budget reply speech, Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten announced that if elected to Government the Federal ALP will guarantee that $2 of every $3 of Vocational Education funding goes to TAFE.
The ALP has stated they will increase Vocational Education funding by $470 million, whilst the Federal Coalition Government will cut funding by $270 million.
In a doorstop interview on 11 May, Minister Birmingham attempted to play down Labor’s funding commitment, saying:
"the last time the Labor Party played in the vocational education space all we got was the disastrous VET FEE-HELP program that subsidised everything from energy healing to basket weaving and saw billions of taxpayer dollars rorted and tipped down the sink”
What Minister Birmingham did not acknowledge was that while the VET-FEE HELP program began in 2009, it was not until the coalition took power in 2013 and further deregulated the scheme that loans jumped from less than $900million to nearly $6billion by 2015.
The Guardian article quoted Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen, “Birmingham’s remarks were insulting to TAFE and its teachers."
The comment by Minister Birmingham equating TAFE qualifications with "basket weaving" saw hundreds of TAFE graduates, teachers and supporters angrily respond on social media. Many people saw the comments by the Minister as a criticism of their own TAFE qualifications that had given them employment. Many people on twitter illustrated how TAFE courses had turned their lives around.
A lot of us owe TAFE for our careers, and our family wellbeing. Increased qualifications mean higher salaries and of course higher taxes. TAFE has provided much more than the privately run rip off institutions that exist today.
TAFE is a must for a developing Australia
— david wallis (@rrximpreza) May 14, 2018
Their arrogance will be rewarded. Sadly, these smug politicians will never understand the hurt their nasty remarks cause.
A TAFE course saved me from the streets.
But caring for the disabled is just like basket weaving in your eyes, eh Birmingham?
— NOEL MILLER (@neddynoel1) May 14, 2018
I actually went to Tafe over 25 years ago, worked in drug and alcohol, welfare and then did my nursing training through them. Tafe - still very important in Australia. https://t.co/1k3wQhHYKj
— Maddie (@champers12345) May 14, 2018
My father is a Tafe Teacher with 30 years of Carpentry experience to his name. I've seen how hard he works to develop the next gen of tradies first hand. Pen pushers like @birmo are completely out of touch with everyday Australians. #auspol https://t.co/ruWig1IW8t
— Luke Warren (@Luke_Warren88) May 13, 2018
People and communities across Australian are fighting to keep our TAFE system high quality and accessible for all students. Join our campaign www.stoptafecuts.com.au