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Monday, 18 June 2018
Page: 3065

Skilling Australians Fund

Senator BUSHBY (TasmaniaChief Government Whip in the Senate) (14:57): My question is to the Minister for Education and Training, Senator Birmingham. Can the minister update the Senate on the states and territories that have recently signed up to the Turnbull government's Skilling Australians Fund?

Senator BIRMINGHAM (South AustraliaMinister for Education and Training and Manager of Government Business in the Senate) (14:57): I thank Senator Bushby for his strong interest in the skilling and training of all Australians, particularly those in Tasmania. One of the many benefits of a government whose policies are able to deliver a strong economy is that you're able to then target investment where it is required, including skilling and training opportunities, as the Turnbull government is doing through our $1½ billion commitment called the Skilling Australians Fund. Importantly, that funding is structured in a way where it will be leveraged; it will be matched dollar for dollar by the states and territories.

It's not the type of deal that those opposite have done in the past, where they have handed money over with one hand and the states have simply been able to cost-shift back onto the Commonwealth and cut back, but, indeed, a guarantee that is in place to ensure that, for every federal dollar invested into supporting apprenticeships and opportunities, there are also state dollars backing those apprenticeships and a focus on real training, real apprenticeships, real opportunities. There is no more cost-shifting but guaranteeing and working towards a target of 300,000 apprenticeships being created across priority areas of our economy in hospitality, tourism, health, manufacturing, building, construction, agriculture and aged-care services.

I'm very pleased that earlier this month five jurisdictions, five states and territories, signed up. Senator Bushby's home state of Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT have all signed up to doing their bit to create additional apprenticeship opportunities across their jurisdictions. We hope that every state will seize the opportunity created by this fund to create more apprenticeships for more Australians, because in the territories, for example, we'll see around 2,400 extra apprenticeships created in the Northern Territory and around 4,160 additional apprenticeships created in the ACT because of this targeted Turnbull government investment.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Bushby, a supplementary question.

Senator BUSHBY (TasmaniaChief Government Whip in the Senate) (14:59): Does the minister know approximately how many apprentices will benefit in New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia?

Senator BIRMINGHAM (South AustraliaMinister for Education and Training and Manager of Government Business in the Senate) (14:59): We'll see in the state of New South Wales around 80,000 additional apprenticeships created. We'll see in the state of South Australia around 17,000 apprenticeships created. Of course, the Marshall Liberal government made an early commitment in their election campaign to sign up to the Skilling Australians Fund to secure this funding. Indeed, we estimate that that will create across, for example, the electorate of Mayo around 2,000 apprenticeships.

I know Senator Bushby will want to know that in Tasmania around an additional 5,000 apprenticeship opportunities will be created from the Skilling Australians Fund and that will mean around 700 or so new opportunities for apprentices in the electorate of Braddon. That will mean more skilled workers in the towns of Burnie, Devonport and Strahan. That will mean more plumbers, chefs, electricians and builders. This is good news for the people of Braddon. In fact, even over the last four years there has been under this government a 23 per cent increase in carpenters in training in Braddon and a 20 per cent increase in electricians in training in Braddon. We're going to go even further under the Skilling Australians Fund.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Bushby, a final supplementary question.

Senator BUSHBY (TasmaniaChief Government Whip in the Senate) (15:01): Can the minister inform the Senate about the response from industry to these states and territories signing up?

Senator BIRMINGHAM (South AustraliaMinister for Education and Training and Manager of Government Business in the Senate) (15:01): Of course, these states and territories have seized the opportunity to help create ultimately 300,000 additional apprenticeship opportunities across Australia. For example, Denita Wawn, CEO of the Master Builders Association, said:

The decision … to join with the Federal Government to provide millions for the funding of apprenticeships and traineeships is a major step in the right direction. It's great news for young people who want to pursue a career in the building and construction industry.

It is, indeed, great news for many young people, whether in Braddon in Tasmania or in Mayo in South Australia. Of course, what we hope and trust is that the Queensland Labor government will follow the lead of the Labor jurisdictions in the ACT and the Northern Territory as well as coalition governments and provide the same opportunities to people in Longman in Queensland and that all jurisdictions will seize the opportunities created by the Skilling Australians Fund to give more young Australians more apprenticeship opportunities thanks to the Turnbull government.

Senator Cormann: Mr President, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.