House debates

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Questions without Notice

Sunshine Coast Health and Social Wellbeing Learning Precinct

2:32 pm

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Asian Century Policy. And I am pleased that as Speaker I arranged for the clock not to start until the question is asked!

The minister would be aware that I have been pushing strongly for the approval of a $46 million grant to enable the $63 million Sunshine Coast Institute of TAFE Sunshine Coast Health and Social Wellbeing Learning Precinct to proceed, augmenting the development of the new Sunshine Coast University Hospital and, ultimately, training 50,000 workers for the coast's future health industry. Will the minister confirm that the approval of this grant is being seriously considered, and the timing of its announcement?

Photo of Ms Anna BurkeMs Anna Burke (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The last time I checked, I was the Speaker. The Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research has the call.

2:33 pm

Photo of Craig EmersonCraig Emerson (Rankin, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Trade and Competitiveness) Share this | | Hansard source

I do thank the member for Fisher for this very important question, because the government indeed has considered the Sunshine Coast Institute of TAFE's Sunshine Coast Health and Social Wellbeing Learning Precinct as a part of the $500 million regional priorities round of the Education Investment Fund.

The regional priorities round is designed to give students, staff and researchers in regional Australia access to world-class teaching, training and research facilities. I am pleased to advise the House, and the member for Fisher, that my office today has contacted the Sunshine Coast TAFE to advise that we will be providing $46.8 million to fund the new Sunshine Coast Health and Social Wellbeing Learning Precinct, which will offer TAFE students vocational education and training in certificate I to advanced diploma courses.

The precinct is expected to generate more than 320 jobs during the construction phase, making a significant contribution to the Sunshine Coast economy. The precinct will include a community space funded by TAFE and its partners to house local health-related clinical and community programs. In addition, it will incorporate the University of the Sunshine Coast's node of the Cooperative Research Centre for Young People, Wellbeing and Information Technology.

There is expected to be a sharp increase in regional demand for health workers, and this centre will accommodate an additional 950 full-time-equivalent student places within the first three years of operation, which will double student capacity. So, that is good news—good news for the Sunshine Coast. I thank the member for Fisher for his ongoing interest and advocacy. Other announcements in relation to the regional priorities round will be made shortly.