House debates

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Questions without Notice


3:03 pm

Photo of Karen AndrewsKaren Andrews (McPherson, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Industry. Will the minister update the House on the take-up of the government's new trade support loans. What other measures is the government taking to improve support to apprentices and their employers?

3:04 pm

Photo of Ian MacfarlaneIan Macfarlane (Groom, Liberal Party, Minister for Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for McPherson for her question. As a former engineer who worked as an industry training adviser panel member in Queensland, she is more than aware of the critical need to have a skilled workforce if you are going to have a productive economy.

I am pleased, in fact, delighted, to announce that since August we have had almost 6,000 young Australians—come on, it's Thursday!

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Finance) Share this | | Hansard source

Madam Speaker, on a point of order, as you heard, the minister just advised the House that he was making an announcement, in contravention of standing orders.

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Minister for Education) Share this | | Hansard source

Madam Speaker, on the point of order, just to make this clear because the opposition tried to get away with this again the other day: the standing order applies to the question. A question cannot ask the minister to announce government policy. It is quite silent on the issue of what ministers can say in terms of that. It is absolutely right. You are getting a bit rusty—

Photo of Mrs Bronwyn BishopMrs Bronwyn Bishop (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

There is no point of order.

Photo of Ian MacfarlaneIan Macfarlane (Groom, Liberal Party, Minister for Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I know those opposite hate to see facts announced in this House, but here is a fact for them to file away for Thursday afternoon. We have seen 6,000 young Australians take up trade support loans including more than 1,500 in the home state of the member for McPherson, a great achievement. There should be little surprise, certainly not from this side, in relation to why so many young people are taking up these trade support loans. The reality is that these loans offer young people who enter a certain skill area or apprenticeship up to $20,000 interest-free. Adjusted annually for inflation, it is a $20,000 interest-free loan that does not require repayment until that person is earning in excess of $50,000 a year.

This government's advances in the area of skills and training does not stop there. The Prime Minister and I last month announced the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network, a $200 million investment to lift apprenticeship completion rates. If there is one thing that is urgent, it is lifting the number of apprentices who actually complete their trades. We saw the terrible situation arise under the previous government where 50 per cent of the people who started apprenticeships did not finish them.

We need to have a situation where young people in particular have the best opportunities to get jobs, and to do that they must be skilled to be productive. We are setting up a one-stop shop for employers, particularly for small businesses, looking to hire apprentices suited to their businesses. I am sure that the new Australian Apprenticeship Support Network will get the same level of applause and support from the business community as we have seen for trade support loans in relation to apprentices. The current system that we inherited was clogged by red tape from the previous government. We are out to make sure that we can target job-matching advice about different course opportunities and, of course, mentoring. This is all about encouraging young people not only to take up apprenticeships but also to finish them.