Pyne and the liberals out of touch on Hunter youth unemployment

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The NSW Labor Opposition has accused Christopher Pyne of being completely out of touch following his comments on the ABC’s Q&A program last night that “there isn’t a crisis” of youth unemployment. 

In Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, the unemployment rate for people aged 15 to 24 is one of the State’s highest at 13 per cent.

Shadow Education Minister Ryan Park – who will be visiting Adamstown today – said the federal and state Liberals were oblivious to the damage that their cuts to TAFE, universities and the Newstart Allowance were doing to the skills base of the Hunter and the ability of young people to find jobs.

“Somebody needs to tell Christopher Pyne – a youth unemployment rate of 13 per cent in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie is a crisis – and solving it needs to be a critical focus for Government,” Mr Park said.

“The policies of the Abbott and Baird Liberal Governments are destroying opportunities for young people in the Hunter and are a recipe for long-term joblessness.

“Four out of 10 students in the Hunter aren’t completing Year 12 – and thanks to Mike Baird – they can’t even go back to TAFE and finish off their HSC even if they wanted to.

“It is appalling that the Baird Government has eliminated the HSC completion course across Hunter TAFE campuses – destroying a critical second chance for school leavers who change their minds and wish to complete their high school diploma – regardless of the reason.”

Under the Baird Government, more than 1100 TAFE teachers and staff across NSW have been sacked and students face massive fee rises for courses from January 2015

TAFE courses eliminated in the Hunter – in addition to the HSC syllabus – include tourism and hospitality at Cessnock, metal fabrication and welding at Glendale and information technology and ship building at Newcastle.

Labor Candidate for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp said Christopher Pyne’s comments reinforced the need for a Hunter jobs summit – because the Government was oblivious to the crisis its policies are creating.

“Cancelling the Gonski funding boost to our schools, slashing TAFE courses and making it more expensive to obtain a qualification are the worst possible policies for the Hunter facing a double-digit youth unemployment crisis,” Mr Crakanthorp said.

“The future of Newcastle and the Hunter depends on having a skilled population. Our region needs to be able to compete on having the best skills – not the lowest wages.

“Whether its Baird’s cuts to TAFE, Abbott’s deregulation of university fees – or the ridiculous plan to leave young unemployed people without Newstart for six months – these are cruel policies that lock young people out of options and hurt their earnings potential.” 

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