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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5273

Mr PERRETT (MoretonGovernment Whip) (21:41): I come from Queensland, a state not dissimilar to Western Australia—decentralised, growing and resource rich. You only need to go to Curtis Island and Gladstone to see some of the pressures and opportunities there. I also come from a state where there have been significant cuts to TAFEs, which, it is my understanding, has also been the case in Victoria and in New South Wales. The private RTO sector has not traditionally been venturing into providing support in the traditional trades, the ones we particularly associate with the resources sector.

In your introductory remarks you talked about $268 billion of capital commitments. We can see it in Gladstone, we can see it all over Queensland. My question goes to the skill needs of this year, of tomorrow, in five years time and in 10 years time and obviously the balance between the construction and production, and other associated things. I know you have experience in chairing the Northern Australia task force, which has looked at some of this. You have looked at the challenges in mining areas and the support provided to them through regional support centres. In the past I can remember when flying to Canberra or to Sydney looking out to see infrastructure bottlenecks and the challenges they have brought to our economy. Bottlenecks have dragged down productivity. My question is about the skills hand break being applied in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales by TAFE shutdowns. I know you have spoken publicly about 457 visas and their short-term role, and about regional migration agreements. Obviously our focus is on jobs and opportunities for young Australians. I say that particularly in the light of, historically, of the Xstratas and the like with their long tradition of putting on apprentices in traditional trades. Could you comment on the future challenges?