Thursday, 18 June 2020
Questions without Notice
I thank the member for his question. We have had many discussions about the businesses in his electorate of Groom—how we can assist them, how we can grow opportunities for them, how we can open up export opportunities for them. In particular, we've had a number of discussions about the Wellcamp Airport precinct, which continues to develop as a very important regional hub that is going to power not only the immediate vicinity but also other parts of Queensland and hopefully many other areas right across Australia. That precinct is on track to house advanced manufacturing, aviation training and support industries associated with that, as well as food processing businesses. All those businesses require a highly skilled workforce.
On this side of the House we are very much aware that for businesses to grow they need a very highly skilled workforce. That's particularly important in our regional communities. That's why a focus on skills is at the heart of this government's JobMaker plans. The economic impacts of the COVID pandemic provide us with an urgency but also a real opportunity to truly reform skills and training in the national interest. Over the past two years the Morrison government has been reinvesting in our skills system and leading the way in reforming our VET sector. This includes funding apprenticeships through the Additional Identified Skills Shortage payment and the Apprentice Wage Subsidy for rural and regional Australia.
In March this year we committed $1.3 billion in wage subsidies to help small businesses affected by COVID-19 to retain their apprentices. It's helping regional communities right around the country, including in Eden-Monaro, where 589 apprentices have been assisted through our COVID-19 Apprentice Wage Subsidy. In fact, the number of apprentices in Eden-Monaro has increased between 2015 and 2019. That shows that locals really understand and are seeing the value in vocational education and training.
Whether it's regional New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory or the ACT, there are no borders when it comes to doing business. That's why consistency in vocational education and skills training is so important. We are proud to be working in a practical way to help Australian businesses right around the country create well-paid, highly skilled jobs for our future.