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Monday, 22 September 2014
Page: 9899

Mr WILLIAMS (Hindmarsh) (10:26): I rise to oppose this motion. Yesterday I participated in the City to Bay fun run through my electorate. Many young people also participated. I think I even spotted one or two supporters of the member for Kingston there. As they ran through my electorate they would have noticed the "fixing south roads" signs—$1 billion of Commonwealth funding for young construction workers. That is another example of how we are helping young Australia and helping build Australia. We are positive about the future of Australia, in contrast to members opposite.

Let us go through a bit of the history. In their last budget the previous Labor government funded the program for a single additional year, with all the funding to conclude at the end of this year. My colleagues on this side of the chamber mentioned that during first speeches by members. Let us remember that the previous Labor government did not provide any further funding or budget allocation. They stand here and say, 'We were committed,' but they did not provide any funding. It is all about money being in the bank; the revenue stream being there. They did not provide the funding. They were not committed to it going forward past this year.

We all know that this program was designed by state and territory governments to take over at the end of the national partnerships. The states and territories have declined to do this for a variety of reasons. I know that in my state of South Australia the state Labor government have mismanaged the finances, with over $2 million interest payments on debt. They have no capacity to fund programs like this. They are forced to make cuts to TAFE and other valuable community services. The government will ensure that in the next round to commence next year Job Services Australia will effectively address the needs of young Australians seeking work.

So what else is this government doing? I will go through a few points. We are investing a record $64.5 billion in government and non-government schools for education for young people. We have introduced trade support loans, offering loans of up to $20,000 over the life of an apprenticeship. We are supporting more than 80,000 new students each year for higher education diplomas, advanced diplomas and associate degree courses. New work for the dole arrangements will also help more young job seekers improve their chances of getting a job while giving something back to the community. Also, there was a recent announcement that $38 million is being provided to deliver the Training for Employment Scholarship Program.

I was down with Luke Hartsuyker in Drakes Supermarkets, which is a fine local example of providing training and jobs for young Australians. The fine member for Reid knows Roger, who is a fine managing director of that company. I met with a number of impressive young staff members. I congratulate Drakes on their training program and commitment to providing jobs for young Australians. They have put through over 200 staff in recent years to gain certificates in food processing or retail management. They have won numerous awards including, in 2012, employer of the year at the Australian Training Awards. So well done to all those associated with Drake food markets.

I just want to make a few points about the higher education system and the necessary reforms that this government is tackling. These reforms will put Australia in a better position to create some of the best universities in the world, better institutions for young Australians. In the past, we have attracted some of the best and brightest from Asia, who have gone on to have outstanding careers. I will just go through a couple. One is His Excellency Dr Tan, who studied a PhD in mathematics at my alma mater, the University of Adelaide, and is currently the President of the Republic of Singapore. An earlier Adelaide university graduate was also a previous President of the Republic of Singapore. Like Adelaide university, Flinders, Uni of SA and numerous other universities around Australia have produced many fine graduates from Asia, but this will be in jeopardy unless we improve and give our universities the best chance to succeed with these reforms.

It is not only we who are talking about these reforms. The peak body of the universities sector, Universities Australia, is saying it is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape a higher education system that is sustainable, affordable and equitable—important words: 'sustainable, affordable and equitable'—for students and the nation. Dr Gonski recently backed our plans, claiming deregulation will free up funds to make universities even greater.

Funding for higher education is actually going up—something that the members opposite will not acknowledge. We are providing direct financial support, uncapped, for students. Also, we have a package for low-socioeconomic status students which will give them new Commonwealth scholarships, an innovative program. So there is record investment in education, new initiatives supporting students in training and necessary higher education reforms backed by the universities themselves.