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Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Page: 4703

Mr CHAMPION (Wakefield) (16:17): I listened very closely to what the member for Barker said about Kimberly-Clark and factories in his electorate. He asserts that I have never been in a Kimberly-Clark factory. In fact, I have. I went to the nappy factory down in Lonsdale a couple of—

Mr Secker: How long ago?

Mr CHAMPION: It would have been about four years ago now, because the plant closed. It was not just me asserting that Kimberly-Clark had not invested in South Australia. Kimberly-Clark themselves on ABC radio admitted that they had not invested greatly in many of their plants in the south-east.

Mr Secker: That's rubbish; they wouldn't say that.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The member for Barker will desist from interjecting.

Mr CHAMPION: They admitted that they were investing in other parts in the world—in South-East Asia, in particular. We note that this is a big problem where companies do not make vast capital investments in factories in Australia and then close them. I have some experience with this because that is what happened at Bridgestone. Sure, they invested in bits and pieces, but they did not upgrade the plant in any substantial way. Then, of course, when the going gets tough, they shut these plants and leave workers in the lurch. It is often left to the government to push these companies to make industry assistance packages to help the workers.

I would have just said to the member for Barker if he had not left the room that in my electorate we worked very hard with Bridgestone workers to make sure they did get jobs again after that redundancy situation. We were very successful. We did not harp on about the packages that were offered by the government. We actually worked with Job Services Australia providers, the company and the community to make sure everybody was re-employed.

This budget is really about the new jobs that we are creating in the economy. Since coming to office, this government has seen the creation of more than 750,000 jobs, and we expect to see a further 500,000 new jobs created over the next two years. That has currently delivered to Australia an unemployment rate of 4.9 per cent, which stands in pretty stark contrast to: the United Kingdom, which has an unemployment rate of 7.8 per cent; the United States, which has an unemployment rate which is persistently high at nine per cent; Germany, which has an unemployment rate of 6.5 per cent; New Zealand, which has an unemployment rate of 6.8 per cent; and Canada, which has a similar resources based economy to our own and an unemployment rate of 7.8 per cent. During the global economic crisis world growth went back by 1.1 per cent and the world shed six million jobs. That is six million tragic stories of families being without an income. So this government is very proud of our record on creating jobs. Jobs are of course the best defence against any cost-of-living increases, because if you do not have a job, if you suffer from unemployment, you suffer greatly with the cost of living. Employment is any government's main strategy to prevent people suffering hardship.

We are basing our budget strategy on jobs, skills and training. That is why there are measures in the budget to retain apprentices and to ensure that people complete their apprenticeships. We want to upskill Australians and we are funding about 130,000 training places over four years. This is industry driven training where industry identifies their business needs and then applies for funding to support the training of existing workers and to bring new workers into areas of need.

We are reforming the vocational education and training sector. That is a major priority for COAG in 2011. We have had a new report and are acting on that report to ensure that we get value for our money. The VET sector is worth $7 billion over five years. We are funding more than 30,000 places in language, literacy and numeracy programs to make sure that people have the basic skills that are essential for a job. This is very necessary in my electorate of Wakefield, in northern Adelaide, because only 40 per cent of the population has completed year 12, compared to the national figure of 50 per cent. When you go doorknocking in my electorate you meet a lot of people who desperately want to take up work. They want the opportunities in mining, defence manufacturing or skilled manufacturing but cannot find work because their skills do not match the vacancies that exist. Then when you see employers they tell you that they cannot readily find people and are suffering skills vacancies. It is a terrible, immoral dichotomy.

The government are ensuring that we address this dichotomy that occurs around the country and in my electorate. Recently, we invested $149 million in Holden, the major manufacturer in my electorate, through the green car fund to support the production of a low-emissions small car, the Holden Cruze, which is an excellent vehicle. On 20 May, the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Carr, announced that $39 million would go towards producing a new, highly fuel efficient Holden Commodore. That is based around producing lightweight aluminium panels designed for the next generation Commodore, which will reduce fuel consumption by about seven per cent, saving some 3.6 million litres of fuel and reducing carbon emissions by around 9,000 tonnes. Holden is at the forefront of the green economy, combining blue-collar and green-collar jobs and producing highly sophisticated manufactured goods in Australia.

What is great about Holden is that they are not just providing jobs and investment in the local community and going about their business; they have made an effort to reach out to one of the most disadvantaged groups in my electorate: the long-term unemployed. Recently, Holden introduced a program where they guaranteed 20 jobs specifically for long-term unemployed people, but linked it to a three-month, five-days-a-week training course. This training course was funded through the Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology, which is a state government department, and through TAFE SA, which designed a pre-employment program which was relevant to Holden's skills requirements. They got referrals for the program which were sourced from federally funded Job Services Australia providers. The course was based around skills and employability, personal presentation, meeting employer and industry expectations, and literacy and numeracy skills. It included two weeks of real work experience on the production line at Holden and participants were required to go through Holden's normal recruitment procedures to get a job. So they met the same standards as anyone else, but they went through a course to get them there. Many of these people had been unemployed for a very long time and many of them found it very difficult to get jobs normally in the market.

They had a couple of hundred applications for this program—43 people started it, 36 made it to the final two weeks of the course, 16 people were offered a three-month contract and eight were offered one-year contracts. Those who were not employed by Holden were not left for the scrap heap but continued to get help. As I understand it, every single one of them has found employment in the local area. That is a huge success story. Holden have reached out to a very disadvantaged group—people who felt they had been locked out of the real economy and who felt they had been left behind after a decade of economic growth. Holden reached out.

The following people deserve great credit for helping to change the lives of 40 people: Mike Devereux, Managing Director of GM Holden; Terry Cubley, employee development manager at Holden; Tim Hutchinson from SA Works and DFEEST; Gail Sulicich, Executive Officer from Northern Futures; all the Job Service Australia providers; and from the AMWU, John Gee, vehicle division secretary, and John Camillo, the overall secretary of the South Australian branch. They transformed the lives of people who had very low expectations and very poor prospects who now have employment prospects, hope for the future, a higher income and a much greater ability to deal with life's pressures. The prospects for the families of these people as well as the prospects for their communities have also been improved.

The idea that Holden is hiring again in disadvantaged communities like Elizabeth South and Davoren Park is a very great thing. It is a great message to send to those communities. The Local Messenger reported that a young man, Blair Ford, 25 years old from Andrews Farm, had been unemployed for 12 months prior to doing the course. He had been knocked back for job after job. The training and job skills helped him to regain his confidence and he got a job at Holden. We know that that young man's life has been changed.

Holden is not the only good news story in my electorate. Civil Train, which is the training arm of the Civil Contractors Federation in South Australia, runs 'live work' sites. Basically, people do varying amounts of training. They get practical experience doing earthmoving, civil construction, horticulture, concrete and landscaping work. This is a unique program. It is not done anywhere else in the country. Civil Train have a contract with Playford Alive with the Land Management Corporation of South Australia, a state government body. Basically, they do real work on real land developments and they train people for real jobs. The federal government has invested $8 million to help provide Civil Train with a mobile facility that can go to places like Port Lincoln, the Pitjantjatjara Lands and Millicent in the south-east—which the member for Barker will be talking about—and teach people how to drive graders, do earthworks and get a job in civil construction. That is a hugely important operation. It means people do not have to come to Adelaide. It means people can train in their local communities and train from real jobs. This is a very important investment. Civil construction is the fourth-largest industry employer in northern Adelaide. This program makes people job ready. The federal government has also been involved in helping Civil Train get a simulator, which basically reduces the amount of carbon emissions and reduces the amount of time one has to spend on earth-moving equipment. The Prime Minister was down at Civil Train looking at this simulator and having a drive of it, as many of the trainees at Civil Train are doing every day of the week. These are investments in high-quality training, training for an industry which will need more and more workers as time goes on.

South Australia is currently going through something of a renaissance. Fifteen years ago when I came out of school and university there were not many jobs around. It was very hard to find work. We now find that with the exploration boom in our state, with the prospect of Olympic Dam opening and with the vast amounts of land development, commercial development and industrial development occurring in places like my electorate, we are going to need more and more people to do this work. It is just great that we have key people like Christopher Reynolds, the Civil Contractors Federation president; Andrew Young, the treasurer; Tony Baulderstone, the national deputy president; and Andrew Haste and Andrew White, Civil Train business managers. They are engaging with the local community and engaging with individuals to get jobs.

I am very keen on this area. We have recently signed a pledge with Northern Futures to get more employers to find jobs for local disadvantaged groups, for long-term unemployed people, for people who have been locked out of decades of economic growth—to give those people a chance in the job market. It is something the government want to do, it is something I am very committed to doing and it is something that I think will transform lives, families and communities.