Labor's regional pitch includes free TAFE courses and $900m for roads

Labor's rural, regional pitch: better roads, free TAFE


News
New Labor leader Michael Daley hit the ground running soon after he was elected leader following Luke Foley's demise. He cites his family's rural background among his attributes. They were dairy farmers on the North Coast.

New Labor leader Michael Daley hit the ground running soon after he was elected leader following Luke Foley's demise. He cites his family's rural background among his attributes. They were dairy farmers on the North Coast.

Aa

'Coalition has ignored regional NSW'

Aa

Labor believes it is picking holes where the Coalition has failed in regional NSW by moving to fix country roads and offering better and free skills training through TAFE.

In its pitch to rural and regional NSW, Labor has promised an extra $900m to be spent on rural roads.

Labor leader Michael Daley  said Labor will boost rural and regional road expenditure by $900 million – almost double the existing $500m fixing regional roads program – bringing total investment to $1.4 billion.

Labor says recent NRMA data shows the local roads infrastructure backlog has soared almost 30 per cent since 2014-15. Labor will target those roads for funding that were rated  ‘very poor’ and ‘poor’, he said.

Shadow Minister for Roads, Jodi McKay, said: “Only Labor will take advice from the experts and channel the funding where it’s needed to fix local roads.”

Shadow Minister for Regional Roads, Peter Primrose, said: “For too long the Liberals and Nationals have taken regional and rural NSW for granted."

“Most accidents occur in rural and regional areas, which is why it’s so important to properly fund them.”

Labor says the Coalition is failing to meet the 30 per cent requirement for the Restart NSW infrastructure fund to go toward rural NSW. "An October Auditor General report found just 17.2 per cent of this fund was allocated to regional areas last financial year.

Meantime, Mr Daley said Labor will make TAFE free for courses in skills shortage areas.

The policy will offer more than 600,000 fee-free TAFE places over the next decade and will be offered for all certificate level courses in areas where there are skills shortages, such as childcare, aged care, disability care, construction, plumbing and the electrical trades.

Related: Battle for rural vote at NSW Farmers' pre-election forum at Wingham

He attacked the closure of TAFE campuses in Dapto, Qurindi and Bega, as course fees skyrocketed by 22 per cent.

Michael Daley and Labor will also cap the amount of contestable funding for private providers at 30 per cent, and establish a Private Providers Investigations Unit to investigate complaints by students, ensure private providers are delivering courses at a high standard, and prevent private providers preying on vulnerable people.

Mr Daley said: “Free TAFE will help those starting out or those retraining to find jobs in industries that are crying out for more workers. This is the ultimate jobs plan, and will be great for jobs growth in both urban and regional NSW. It delivers the skilled workforce of the future.”

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by