Page 4159 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 18 November 2015

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I also note the Canberra community’s fondness for our CIT. CIT has many connections to the lives of Canberrans who may have started their post-school studies there or had family members, sons and daughters complete CIT courses perhaps before going on to successful careers or even further studies. Many have taught at CIT, as I did. I taught dental assistants before my election. Those opposite may find this hard to believe after a decade of listening to themselves spout despair, doom and gloom, and growl at any mention of CIT. They have been trying to drag down one of our great educational institutions and its staff with cheap political pot shots as a way of trying to get at this government.

I am hoping, although I am continually disappointed by them, that some time well before October 2016 the Canberra Liberals might actually produce a policy for CIT and announce their intentions towards it. They failed to announce a CIT policy before the 2012 election. The implication many took from that was that the Liberals were planning a wholesale slash and burn of CIT, its facilities and its staff. This would have opened the way for some of the fly-by-night shonky operators other Liberal state governments have let into their vacated or privatised TAFE spaces in Victoria and New South Wales.

I invite the Canberra Liberals to tell us that is not so. I hope that their education spokesperson or shadow minister in the lead-up to the next election will make a firm commitment to the future of CIT and investment in the quality vocational education and training we enjoy in the ACT. The future of the Canberra community and our economy is intimately involved with the future of the CIT. Our community values the many courses offered, from the very vocationally oriented courses to the great variety of more recreational and special interest courses.

These all help make possible the fulfilment of the education for life ethos that so many Canberrans have embraced and that contributes to our dynamic society and our diversified economy. The clever, connected and creative city that we are becoming under this government relies on many factors including quality vocational education in our city which is producing the skilled tradies and specialists, as Mr Gentleman mentioned, with the knowhow to finish projects and make plans work.

We are justifiably proud of the talented graduates we are turning out from our great universities and we are equally proud of the graduates from CIT who keep this city running. Through our investment in CIT this Labor government is also investing in our diversified economy and the long-term future of Canberra.

Experience has shown us that we cannot rely on the federal Liberal government to care for Canberra or for the needs of our business community, which includes a skilled workforce. In contrast, the ACT government launched our growth, diversification and jobs, a business development strategy for the ACT in 2012. Through it, we are growing our economic base and growing local employment. We are promoting Canberra to the region, the nation and the world to expand and diversify our economic base.

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