Skilling SA

Mr DULUK (Waite) (12:50):

I want to make a few comments on the motion moved by the member for King and congratulate her on her hard work and advocacy for her people in the northeast. I note this is her first motion. As the member for Unley concluded in his comments, skills, apprenticeships and jobs are a huge issue, not just in the member for King's electorate but, of course, in my electorate and across all of South Australia.

As I said, I support the motion and the Skilling South Australia initiative. It is a really important policy of the new Marshall Liberal government, one that formed the basis of our policy manifesto that we took to the last election. Our Strong Plan for Real Change is indeed a very comprehensive plan that we took to the electorate on key items in so many areas, but particularly in the area of skills, training and apprenticeships. In the last 16 years of Labor, in particular the last four, we have seen the Labor government decimating skills, training and confidence in the VET sector, and the way the member for Port Adelaide, when she was the minister, treated that sector. It led to confusion, a loss of confidence and TAFE South Australia losing accreditation and having the embarrassment that goes with that.

Essentially, under the former government, trade and apprenticeships reduced in South Australia from about 33,300 in 2013 to 15,700 in 2017—that was Labor's legacy for young South Australians looking for skill-based training and apprenticeships. That is about an 18,200 reduction in three or four years. That needs to change, and it will under a Liberal government and its policy framework, which is so important.

We need to give our tradespeople—plumbers, apprentices, draughtsmen, cabinetmakers, mechanics and the like—the right skills and the right training so that they can make a contribution to South Australia. I think it is important, in the context of this motion, that we support the language and the narrative around skills and training. I commend the minister for his work in that. Not everyone needs to go to university, and I think we need to change that narrative because university is not for everybody. It certainly has been the Labor way, since Whitlam in the 1970s, that if you did not go to university you were somehow missing out or not doing something right.

We need to really value work and we need to ensure that those who do not go to university have the skill set that they need going forward. This is one way to deal with the high youth unemployment that we have here in South Australia, which, unfortunately, has not been tackled by the former government. Once again, I know that this government will work hard to tackle youth unemployment. We recognise the need for that, and that is why we are providing $100 million to secure matched funding from the Skilling Australians Fund.

The member for Ramsay noted in her contribution that there might be a threat to this fund if there is a change of government at the federal level. I do not know why there would be a problem. I would like to see the South Australian Liberal Party, and perhaps the member for Ramsay herself, come out and guarantee that, should there be the unfortunate circumstance of a change of government federally one day, this funding will be guaranteed for South Australia. That would be quite a nice thing.

I would be really keen to see the member for Light write to the member for Grayndler, minister Albanese, to confirm that when he is leader of the Labor Party he will guarantee this funding for South Australia. We on this side are committed to working with the federal government to ensure that South Australia receives this funding, to ensure that our kids, our young South Australians, have the funding for the training they need, whether it is in the TAFE sector or with private providers.

The member for Schubert knows the importance of private providers to the skilling of the workforce in South Australia. I think it is really important that we on this side of the house note the role that TAFE SA plays—and does and should and will continue to play—and also the role that private providers play in the mix in South Australia for apprenticeships, traineeships and the like.

As I said, the Marshall government is committed to matching the federal funding, and hopefully with that right injection we can create up to 20,000 new apprenticeships over the coming years. We will maintain funding to support group training organisations because, as I said, we believe there is an important role to play. I commend the member for King for putting this debate on the Notice Paper today so that we can actually talk about skills, and I look forward to working with her and the government to ensure the best for South Australians.