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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5273

Mr GRAY (BrandMinister for Small Business, Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism) (21:43): I thank the member for his question. Training and skills development in the resources sector will be a critical issue for our country over the next decade or so as we move from construction into production. It is the case that in his home state of Queensland we have seen savage cuts to TAFE training which genuinely compromises the capacity of Queensland to meet the skills need in industry in the future. It is a tragedy to see that industries within the resources sector make massive investments in growth opportunities and the state government sees fit to make cuts to training and to TAFE which affect the very capacity of that great resource state to be productive.


It is the reality that for most insightful governments, most insightful Commonwealth governments, the best response to labour and skill shortages is training. The member has quite accurately identified 457 visas as a potential source of skills, but we all know—everyone in our parliament knows—that the best source of skills training is in Australia. We must train our own workers for the future to ensure that Australian mines, Australian resource projects, Australian minerals processing and sophisticated minerals processing is done by well-trained Australians who have been through our TAFE system or our university system and have developed the skills required to support industries into the future.

The resources sector employs over a quarter of a million people. It has grown massively in the course of the last six years. In 2009, the resources sector accounted for fewer than 265,000 employees. Today it accounts for in excess of 260,000 employees. That growth has been not just in labour as such but also in skilled labour and in the categories of labour that add minerals processing and sophisticated mine-site activities, from geotechnical work through to standard trades, electricians, plumbers, gas fitters, kitchen staff, cooks and the like. If we are not turning these people out of our TAFEs in order to join the great workforce in our resource community, then it is genuinely the case that our community will not get the benefit that it could get from the super resource cycle that is currently benefiting our Australian economy.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): Order! The question is that the proposed expenditure for the Resources, Energy And Tourism portfolio be agreed to.

Question agreed to.