Monday, 23 November 2009
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and Social Inclusion. Will the Deputy Prime Minister update the House on the latest measures the government is taking to ensure Australia has the skills needed to transition to a low carbon economy?
I thank the member for Deakin for his question. I know that he, like me and members of the government, is concerned that this nation is ready for the challenges of the future, including of course the profound challenge of climate change. The science is in. The action that needs to be taken by this parliament this week is to pass the government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Of course this measure is fundamental to this nation’s cutting its carbon emissions and getting ready to meet the challenge of future climate change. Work is already under way on ensuring that skills and training are ready to meet the challenge of the future—the challenge of climate change. We of course know that adapting to a low carbon economy is going to change the way that we work and the way that we live. Consequently, the government is already moving to change skills and training so workers can have the skills they will need for this low-carbon future.
I am very pleased to report that on Friday, when I met with tertiary education and employment ministers from around nation, we were able to agree on our National Green Skills Agreement to ensure that training around the country has embedded in it the new skills that workers will need for a carbon constrained economy. This is an important agreement to changing the content of training packages for some of our most traditional trades. Obviously, some of our most traditional trades will need new green skills, whether it is motor mechanics learning to work on hybrid vehicles, whether it is plumbers learning to deal with the way in which people want to use waste water now, and whether it is electricians who are getting ready to deliver the newly designed buildings that will use less energy and less electricity, we want to embed these new green skills in training packages. This agreement ensures that for trade apprentices who commence training after 1 January next year these new green skills will be embedded in what they study so they are ready to take their place in a low carbon economy.
This of course builds on work that the government has already done with an investment of $94 million to provide 50,000 young Australians with job and training opportunities in new green skills. Then of course it builds on the $200 million investment that we are making to upgrade TAFE institutes so they too are ready to teach the green skills that we will need in the future. The time for denying climate change has passed. The time for inaction has passed. We, as a nation, need to move forward. We need to make sure that working people in this nation have the skills they need for a low carbon economy. We need to make sure this nation has in place a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and that is the task before this parliament this week.