Greens Upper House MP David Shoebridge visited the Hunter Region on Monday to announce his party’s policy on TAFE funding.
Mr Shoebridge declared a Greens NSW Government would make TAFE free for all courses up to and including Certificate III level.
“It’s those initial qualifications that are going to allow people to break through into employment,” Mr Shoebridge said.
The mines are running out of jobs. TAFE can help re-skill those people.Greens candidate for Maitland John Brown
The policy comes after Labor’s pledge of free TAFE for more than 600,000 certificate level places in skill shortage courses over the next decade if it wins in March.
Plumbing, electrical trades, disability, aged care and childcare will be among the courses initially covered by the 10-year plan.
But Mr Shoebridge pointed out that private providers will still be able to access 30 per cent of the total funding pool under that policy.
“It’s a partial commitment,” he said.
“They want a minimum of 70 per cent of public funds. It should received 100 per cent public funds.”
Mr Shoebridge said the Greens policy would be funded by redirecting funding that currently goes to private colleges.
"There's hundreds of millions of dollars there," he said.
Maitland Greens candidate John Brown said he was “very pleased” to support the policy.
He said he had seen and experienced the benefits of TAFE first-hand.
As a young man, Mr Brown completed an accountancy course at TAFE, while his wife studied her HSC through the system.
“The courses were free then,” he said. “It should be like that to help young people who were like me.
“There are so many benefits to TAFE.
“I can’t understand why the government can’t see the importance of these places.”
Mr Brown said free TAFE would be particularly important in a place like Maitland due to the rapidly growing nature of the city, which still relies heavily on mining as a source of employment.
“The mines are running out of jobs,” he said. “TAFE can help re-skill those people.”
Mr Shoebridge agreed that access to TAFE was vital to help the Hunter shift out of mining.
“I’m here on a day that’s 39 degrees, we’ve had record breaking temperatures this summer,” he said.
“The community gets it, we need to transition and make sure no community gets left behind.”
The state election is on March 23.
The Greens have also promised free TAFE and university for all if they win the Federal election in May.