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The local economy is slowing, and people are losing their jobs left, right and centre. You would think that at this time, more than ever, the Government would want to make it easier, not harder, for people to get the skills needed to find a job. Making TAFE more expensive surely won’t do this.

You would have heard the stat plenty of times by now – of the 93 Electorates in New South Wales Cessnock has the lowest percentage of people with a University degree, and the highest percentage of people with a trade. That means that cuts to TAFE are especially hard on our local economy.

The jobs market is competitive – our people need to be skilled. With TAFE course fees increasing by as much as $1,500 per term that is only going to get harder. There’s been a lot of talk about ‘lifters and leaners’ lately, but how can you expect someone to become a ‘lifter’ when you’re making it so much harder to get an education?

I’m going to keep hassling them. I’ll keep asking questions, writing letters and circulating petitions. This Government must know exactly what their cuts mean for this area and our people. Ryan Park, Shadow Minister for Education and Training recently came to the local area and visited Cessnock TAFE, one of those under threat.