Prime minister’s in-and-out visit

Prime minister Anthony Albanese arrives at Flying Brick Cider Co for a quick visit with federal member for Corangamite Libby Coker and The Sharp Group director Lindsay Sharp. (Louisa Jones) 413222_01

By Jena Carr

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese made a rare visit to the Bellarine Peninsula to congratulate TAFE graduates, pose for photos, and pour a cider and was gone half an hour later.

Mr Albanese arrived at Flying Brick Cider Co for the pre-scheduled appearance close to two hours later than expected on Thursday, June 13, cutting the visit down to 30 minutes.

A representative of Mr Albanese’s team said he was late leaving Adelaide due to plane troubles and would not address media while in the Geelong region.

The prime minister did, however, have time to speak with local TAFE graduates who had used the Fee-Free TAFE initiative, alongside federal member for Corangamite Libby Coker.

“This is a wonderful part of Victoria and a great part of the nation, and we promised 180,000 fee free TAFE places last year,” Mr Albanese said in a short address.

“Sometimes when you (make a) promise you aim to make sure that you deliver, but we actually delivered 350,000 and that’s because the demand for it was far greater than we thought.”

Ms Coker said she was glad to celebrate the graduates’ Fee-Free TAFE success stories on the day, which coincided with the announcement that the rollout would continue for another year.

“(This is) providing cost-of-living support for Australians choosing to study in priority and skills-need areas,” she said.

“After smashing out Fee-Free TAFE targets last year with almost 300,000 enrolments, I’m delighted we are rolling out a further 300,000 Fee-Free TAFE and VET places in 2024.”

The additional 300,000 Fee-Free TAFE and VET places would be available between 2024 and 2026 and supported through a $414.1 million Commonwealth investment alongside state and territory governments.

The announcement came a day after TAFE teachers from The Gordon participated in a statewide strike for better pay and work conditions for the first time since 2008.

Australian Education Union (AEU) The Gordon Geelong branch president Matt Henry previously told the Independent that the biggest issue currently facing the TAFE sector was a shortage of teachers.

“Whilst the government thinks they can solve the TAFE problem by offering free TAFE, free TAFE is no good if you’ve got no teachers,” he said.