I will refer firstly to those two reviews. In the short time that is available to me this morning, I will cite some specific references from both the Quality Review and the Strategic Capability Review of TAFE SA, with the purpose of highlighting what is clear evidence of the need for reform in this area. Secondly, I will outline briefly the steps that are being taken and that are already underway by the Marshall government. I congratulate the minister in relation to those steps, and I will address those briefly in a moment.
Firstly, in relation to the Quality Review of TAFE SA, dated 4 April 2018, it is important that certain specific matters be brought to the attention of the house because the review has highlighted, in fact, what has been a serious degradation of TAFE quality and capacity over a sustained period of time. I note first, at page 2 of the Quality Review, that the reviewers observe, and I quote:
The most concerning finding, and an indicator of both the poor support provided to the Board and the limited sense of responsibility of its members, was that internal quality auditors had made discoveries similar to those later made by ASQA. They reported TAFE SA's non-compliance 'up the line', but these internal audit findings revealing a high degree of exposure were not given proper consideration at either the executive or Board level.
Further, at page 17 of the Quality Review, I quote the reviewers' observation:
TAFE SA did not meet its targets for training provision (in terms of the number of hours delivered) and its assessment processes were found deficient by ASQA.
Tellingly, the reviewers concluded:
The organisation—in some respects at least—had lost sight of its fundamental reason for being.
The reviewers go on to observe:
Staff told us that certain conditions relating to maximum hours of work and scope of duties can prevent staff from working in flexible and innovative ways. They also engender a rules-based culture.
Further, at page 25, the reviewers note under the heading 'Risk management':
Perhaps the most concerning finding with respect to TAFE SA governance is that—despite clear evidence that TAFE SA was likely to fail an ASQA audit—the CEO did not heed the very real risk of regulatory non-compliance.
So that is the Quality Review of TAFE SA, published by the new government and setting out the task that it was faced with on coming to government. I will refer specifically in a number of ways then to the Strategic Capability Review of TAFE SA. One need do no more than open the strategic review to the first page and read line 1 of the executive summary, which states:
The Reviewers are dismayed by the depth of the problems at TAFE SA. The significant challenge now facing TAFE SA stems from an absence of strategy, poor leadership, and the centralisation of decision-making and resources. The last four years have been a lost opportunity for TAFE SA specifically and for South Australia as a whole. The organisational focus of TAFE SA needs to change.
Well, you can say that again—and, in fact, they did. They went on and said it again and again throughout the course of the Strategic Capability Review. I note further, at page 46, that these problems were not confined to governance and culture but had had real effect down the line in terms of the facilities that TAFE SA was able to work with. I quote from page 46 on the topic of delivery capability:
Ageing infrastructure, obsolete equipment, unreliable technology and inflexible online platforms have severely limited organisational capacity and innovation.
I have two more specific references to the Strategic Capability Review of TAFE SA to illustrate the evidence that this government has been faced with and is now addressing. Firstly, at page 3 it states:
TAFE SA’s emphasis on cost-cutting and centralisation has overwhelmed and distorted its strategic focus. The business model does not enable educators to respond to business and industry requirements. Nor does it empower staff to take initiative and innovate within an accountable organisational culture.
Further, it states:
The training system in South Australia is underperforming, and this Review has identified an alarming deterioration at TAFE SA in recent years. One key finding is that the central TAFE SA administration rates very poorly in all the capability dimensions of strategy, delivery and leadership.
These are damning findings indeed. These two reviews lay out a very clear need for reform, and I suggest to honourable members that that is to say the very least. There is a very clear need for reform of TAFE SA. It must be observed that—
The Hon. S.C. MULLIGHAN: Mr Deputy Speaker, this is an important matter and I draw your attention to the state of the house.
A quorum having been formed:
Mr TEAGUE: I thank the member for Lee for making the important observation that this is indeed an important matter for the attention of the house and the reason why, at the very first opportunity at the commencement of sittings in 2019, I brought this motion to the attention of the house. I thank the member for Lee for further focusing our attention on this very important matter.
I have taken the opportunity to identify, in quite specific ways, the challenge that these reviews placed before the new government and the minister in coming to office. I submit that it is abundantly clear that there is a need for serious and thoroughgoing reform. The good news is that the new government has acted and acted decisively already and these matters ought now be noted. I take the house back to 4 September last year and the budget because the new government has already allocated $109 million towards the task of redressing this sustained underperformance.
The new government, the Marshall Liberal government, is delivering the fresh start that TAFE SA requires. TAFE SA must be focused on meeting the needs of South Australians. It must be focused on restoring a level of excellence in the delivery of vocational training. It is to that end that the minister introduced these reforms and outlined, as he did on 4 September, the government's policy, A Fresh Start for TAFE SA, as has been on the public record now for some months.
As I observed, the new government, the Marshall Liberal government, has committed significant resources to this. Let's not labour under the cliché that is oft repeated by particularly those on the other side in relation to resources for education and training. This government has committed serious resources to address the significant challenge that it has been left with.
A Fresh Start for TAFE SA marks the beginning of the transformation for TAFE SA. Not only have significant funds being applied to the task but a new board has been appointed, along with a new chair of the TAFE SA Board, Ms Jacqui McGill. The new board has combined—typical of this new government—expertise in the range of elements required to achieve practical outcomes: expertise in training, industry background and corporate governance skills. If you are going to transform an organisation for practical outcomes, you need to have a combination of practical skills, and it is with that in mind that the new board has been appointed.
Further, and perhaps most importantly, the TAFE SA Ministerial Charter 2018-19 was tabled in parliament by the minister on 8 November last year. The charter sets out directions and functions of TAFE SA, and that includes delivery of quality government-funded VET services that meet the economic and social needs of all South Australians. So the Marshall Liberal government is committed to providing strong public vocational education, the sort of vocational education South Australians deserve. I commend the motion to the house.
Dr CLOSE: Mr Acting Speaker, I call attention to the state of the house.
A quorum having been formed:
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: On a point of order, during the quorum call prior to this one a member left the chamber while the bells were ringing, potentially in an attempt to denude the house of the quorum that might otherwise have been present. Last year, this happened on a regular basis, and I submitted to the Speaker at that time that it was an obstruction of the house to do such a thing. Without wanting to labour the point at this stage, I would encourage the Speaker to again reflect on whether future activities at that stage would—
The SPEAKER: Yes, thank you, Minister for Education. Standing order 44 does talk to this issue. I will be taking it up personally with the Opposition Whip, and this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Can I ask a point of clarification, sir? Which behaviour is that?
The SPEAKER: There are matters that I do not wish to disclose publicly at the moment that I overheard earlier this morning, and I will be taking that up with the Opposition Whip.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: We can speak to our whip; the Speaker has just warned the opposition about something we do not know anything about.
The SPEAKER: That is right. The member for Flinders, I believe, was on his feet.
Mr TRELOAR: I am rising to speak, sir, if I have the call.
The SPEAKER: Yes, you have the call. You are the first one on your feet, member for Flinders.
Dr Close interjecting:
The SPEAKER: Sorry, was the member on her feet?
The SPEAKER: I did see the member for Flinders first, so I called the member for Flinders.
Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (11:34): I rise to speak today on this very good motion from the member for Heysen. It is a very important motion, as has been highlighted a couple of times by calls for a quorum to be present. The motion is:
That this house—
(a) notes the reports of the Quality Review and the Strategic Capability Review into TAFE SA;
(b) welcomes the government's response to these reports as outlined in A Fresh Start for TAFE SA;
(c) congratulates those in the TAFE SA organisation who have contributed to improvements in training delivery for South Australian students; and
(d) expresses serious concerns about the failures of government oversight—
that being by the previous Labor government, of course—
that led to the concerning findings identified in the reviews into TAFE SA.
I rise today as somebody who has been involved with the TAFE system over the years. In fact, way back in about 1980—and I am probably showing my age here—I was involved in what was known then as a certificate in rural practice course, otherwise known as on-farm training. I think we were probably—
Mr Pederick: Hear, hear!
Mr TRELOAR: The member for Hammond also undertook that particular course. It was probably better known as on-farm training. On Eyre Peninsula, it gave about 20 young farmers, all men at that stage, the opportunity to gain and become qualified in some really practical skills in relation to the practical side of training. I am referring to things such as basic bookkeeping, animal husbandry which included crutching and drenching regimes. I also needed to be able to demonstrate that I could adequately butcher an animal—a long-lost art, I suspect, these days. In 1980 it was important. Of course, there were various cropping regimes in the mixing of chemicals. We needed to be qualified in the mixing of agricultural chemicals. We also gained some very practical workshop skills such as welding.
It was a very enjoyable course. It was run through TAFE. I think Chris Trethewey and then David Stent oversaw that program. In fact, it was where I first met the late Ted Chapman who was a member of this place for many years and the father of the current member for Bragg. He was invited to our final dinner in 1981. On that occasion I received from Ted the dux of the course award, so I was very pleased to receive that.
In 1990, I undertook the certificate in farm management, and once again that was delivered through TAFE. Over about 18 months I got to know a whole new group of active farmers from across Eyre Peninsula. It was about the management skills needed to run a small business, in this case the small business of farming. It was another very successful and valuable part of my education, I have to say. It remains a critical part of delivering public vocational education in this state.
In the seat of Flinders, we have three TAFE campuses currently at Ceduna, Port Lincoln and Wudinna, all doing their best to deliver what is required in the way of vocational education. The member for Heysen talked about reports that were done into TAFE SA. Those two reports highlighted some significant shortcomings and the fact that there is a clear need for reform in the vocational education and training system in South Australia.
Sadly, the former Labor government in this state, after many years in government, failed the training sector, and that was highlighted by the Skills for All blowout and then the WorkReady mess. At the same time, the former government's oversight of TAFE SA and TAFE SA's leadership failed staff, students and the people of South Australia because this is, as I said, a critical part of delivering skills and education to a sector of South Australia where people, for whatever reason, do not choose to go on to university or are unable to go straight into gainful employment. It is an opportunity to build their skills and become qualified at a certificate level. That can then lead to further certificates, diplomas, and so it goes.
The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) findings in 2017 regarding TAFE SA highlighted serious issues of quality across all qualifications that were audited—a sad indictment. The ASQA interim report showed that 16 out of 16 qualifications audited were found to be noncompliant—an extraordinary effort, every single one of them was noncompliant. ASQA proposed that 15 qualifications be removed from TAFE SA's scope altogether and that one qualification be suspended (it must have been one of the good ones).
The findings of both the Quality Review and Strategic Capability Review, commissioned by the former government and released by the Marshall Liberal government in 2018, showed a downturn in performance and highlighted the need for organisation-wide reform at TAFE SA, which is what we have undertaken to do. The Marshall Liberal government is committed to TAFE SA's role as a quality provider in a contestable market and has provided a $109 million rescue package, as highlighted in last year state's budget, to ensure that TAFE SA not only recovers from the position it was left in but transforms and flourishes in the VET market of the future, particularly in a state that is about to embark on naval shipbuilding and looking to employ or engage any number of new apprentices.
These new apprentices have an opportunity to take part in the new economy of South Australia, and they need the opportunity to be properly qualified in order to do that. What better way to do that than with a strong public vocation education system? The Marshall Liberal government is also committed to delivering a fresh start for TAFE, focusing on meeting the needs of those South Australians seeking the skills they need to build their careers, and of the local industry that is seeking a skilled workforce.
Dr CLOSE (Port Adelaide—Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (11:41): Thank you, Acting Speaker, for your indulgence in recognising me when I was slightly late to my feet. I move an amendment to this motion which, in its amended form, reads:
That this house—
(a) notes the reports of the Quality Review and the Strategic Capability Review into TAFE SA;
(b) recognises the former Labor government commissioned the reports;
(c) congratulates those in the TAFE SA organisation who have contributed to improvements in training delivery for South Australian students; and
(d) expresses concerns about this government's lack of response to the findings identified in the reviews into TAFE SA.
One of the great lessons in politics—and we tend to get very partisan about this, and every challenge faced by someone on the other side we gloat over and wish them ill—is that many challenges are, in fact, common to whoever is in government. What should be in common, but what is too infrequently the case, is that when a challenge occurs the minister who is in that position is capable of the maturity and willingness to allow scrutiny, to allow independent questioning and, once that has occurred, to truly accept and understand the advice being given.
This is something we have not seen in the case of the Minister for Environment and Water and the royal commission on the River Murray, which was commissioned before the minister became responsible and which ought to be seen as a tremendously useful document in terms of the scrutiny of this current government, previous governments, interstate governments and the commonwealth government. Instead, it has been tragically denigrated, I think scandalously denigrated, in this house yesterday.
The River Murray is unquestionably a challenge for whoever is in government, and the way in which we manage vocational training and higher education, the way in which we as a country manage what happens after school, is a challenge we all ought to share.
It is absolutely undeniable that there were particular challenges that pertained to TAFE SA and that I had to accept were the truth when I was minister. I had to apologise to the people that those challenges were directly affecting, and I did so. I did so not simply because one ought to parrot apologies but because anything that interrupts the course of a person's education is something that ought not happen. Anyone who has any level of accountability ought to apologise for it, and I did so.
But I did more than that. I commissioned two reports of inquiry that were delivered to this current government but could have been delivered to us, knowing that it would find concerns about the way in which TAFE was operating but knowing that that was necessary. I knew it was not about trying to protect myself from criticism from an independent authority and it was not about then saying that that authority is ludicrous or nonsensical or wrong, as both the minister and the Premier have tried to do with the royal commission, but about accepting that the independent advice is legitimate, worthy of consideration and absolutely worthy of respect.
As a nation we have a challenge with further education. It is partly to do with the concept of federalism; it is partly to do with the challenge of who is responsible for what. I recall well—and it was before I was the minister for higher education and skills—that the then premier, Jay Weatherill, suggested that there ought to be a different arrangement whereby up until the age of 18 the states were responsible and after the age of 18 the federal government was responsible. That would mean that this state could truly come to grips with the priority that is early childhood, whereas we are sort of partially responsible. We do not have access to the funding that is currently being spent by the federal government on child care.
At the same time, we could finally properly integrate vocational training and universities, because you better believe that other countries do this better than we do. Other countries are far more agile, particularly in Europe—and I still include the UK in that—at seamlessly integrating a young person's or a retraining worker's choices in vocational and university training. Until we get that right in this country—when someone who is an electrician who wants to become an electrical engineer is able to do that seamlessly, when someone who is going to work at the very highest level of the trade in the submarines in this state in my electorate is able to do a higher order apprenticeship in order to have that extra quality validated, that extra experience and skill level validated through their qualifications—we have not really come to grips with the challenges that sit within vocational training and higher education.
I was pleased with the quality of these two reports that I have read. I was pleased that I had asked for them and I would have been pleased to receive them in government. In fact, this government, which enjoyed some of the criticism that was made of previous policy decisions and directions, said that they were supportive of a few of the recommendations, failed then to respond to all of the recommendations and promptly made the decision to close campuses in the city. Two of them closed at the end of last year.
This was something that was explicitly addressed by one of the two reviews. The advice was that what we needed to do was further activate the campuses, that what needed to happen was to look at moving the management from head office in the city to the campuses so that those campuses could be better utilised, not just for TAFE work but to allow other trainers, employing organisations, RTOs, group training authorities to come in and also use those campuses and make them lively. That sounds pretty attractive to the people of Port Adelaide.
Yesterday, unfortunately—or perhaps fortunately—I could not really hear what the Premier was saying. I gathered he was attacking me during question time. I got the pointing, but I did not quite get the words because it was so noisy. It was in this endless debate we seem to have over the submarines. I am delighted that the submarines are being built in South Australia. Who would not be? It is ludicrous to suggest that anyone in this chamber is not pleased about that.
I merely ask that it be acknowledged that a Liberal government in Canberra was proposing to have that work happen in Japan, and it was only because we stood up in South Australia—and not just the Labor government; the people stood up, the unions stood up, the workers stood up—that we had a change of heart in Canberra and we were able to have those submarines being built. It is pretty galling to be accused of somehow not being pleased that there are jobs in Port Adelaide. It is just so nonsensical. I cannot even begin to comprehend how someone could accuse another member of parliament with any degree of respect of feeling that way.
But they are closing the nearby TAFE when we are supposed to be gearing up for that work, when we are supposed to be making sure that it is South Australian workers who are working on those submarines. It is fantastic that they are being built here, it is fantastic that they are being built in Australia, but it is pretty dangerous for us to assume that all the work will happen in South Australia or even that the lion's share of work will be undertaken by South Australian workers, South Australian educated people.
We welcome skilled migrants and we welcome people in other states also profiting, but we absolutely need to make sure that we are doing everything we can through our school system, our vocational training system and our university sector to maximise the opportunity for South Australian workers to be working on those submarines. I can tell you that not dealing fully with all the recommendations in the TAFE review and closing campuses, particularly the Port Adelaide TAFE, is not going to deliver us anything near what South Australians deserve.
It does not matter that this is a Liberal government and we were a Labor government. There are some things that sit above that partisan split—that is, protecting the interests of South Australians. I am not seeing a lot of that from over the other side. We have already had the royal commission observing, commenting, finding, recommending that not only did the Minister for Environment let down South Australia, he should revoke his decision, but we also have a government that is prepared to shut TAFE campuses while trying to politically attack the other side for the history of TAFE.
Mr BROWN: Mr Acting Speaker, I draw your attention to the state of the house.
A quorum having been formed:
Mr McBRIDE (MacKillop) (11:53): I look forward to speaking in support of the member for Heysen's motion here in front of my colleagues. TAFE has historically played a strong and important role in vocational training for many industry sectors across the state of South Australia. In my electorate of MacKillop, TAFE continues to play an important role in the provision of training for the community, government and business. We know that there is a great demand and need for high-quality and targeted vocational education and training.
A great case in point is in the area of shearing and wool handling training. This is just one area in which TAFE and its coordinators have been able to grow their program to ensure that South Australia has a trained and capable workforce to service the shearing and wool classing needs of the sheep wool industry. On this point with regard to trainers, I am pleased to highlight the quality of trainers and coordinators employed through TAFE who need to take credit for building this program.
I, too, am a beneficiary of TAFE. I have completed boilermaker/welder apprenticeship training throughout my time and used TAFE for this service. The practical skills that I learned through that process stood me in good stead as a boilermaker and helped me appreciate the application and benefits of vocational education and training. It is my view that TAFE must be effective. It is an important platform for training.
We know that TAFE has the potential to deliver. However, over time this institution has been in decline and, unfortunately, has somewhat lost its way. This is something I have heard from the constituents of my electorate who are feeling marginalised by the withdrawal of training opportunities offered regionally through TAFE.
In my reading of the Strategic Capability Review of TAFE, like many others I have noted some concerning findings, including the comments of the reviewers who signalled that they were 'dismayed by the depth of the problems at TAFE SA'. They indicated:
The significant challenge now facing TAFE SA stems from an absence of strategy, poor leadership, and the centralisation of decision-making and resources.
I note that the Quality Review and Strategic Capability Review provide some damning statistics and conclusions, including:
government-funded VET students in TAFE SA have decreased by 42 per cent since 2013;
government-funded VET program completions in TAFE SA have decreased by 68 per cent since 2013;
TAFE's operating costs are 20 per cent higher than the Australian TAFE average;
better leadership is needed to support TAFE's motivated and hardworking lecturers; and
quality outcomes were impacted by the previous approach of non-strategic cost reduction.
There is great value in review processes if we take steps to respond to their outcomes. It is not enough to note issues and move on. That is why I have welcomed the Marshall Liberal government's response to the Quality Review and the Strategic Capability Review that is summarised in the document A Fresh Start for TAFE SA.
I am pleased to note that the government will work to bring changes to increase access to training courses and choices of training providers for business and students by increasing contestability of funding. I note that the government is realistic in its approach to revitalising TAFE, recognising that there is a greater need to engage with industry to analyse skills and training needs to deliver training that will meet economic and industry sector needs. This will take time and, to improve contestability, there will need to be reform in TAFE and support to wider delivery partners to support the skilling of local communities. For my part, and on behalf of my electorate, I have a keen interest in ensuring that we have training programs that work for regions.
The government's response to the reviews also includes a renewed focus on quality. I am advised that TAFE SA is undertaking an extensive quality improvement process across all its programs and services. One of the directions I am pleased to highlight was delivered in its November 2018 appointment of the new members of the TAFE Board. I am optimistic that, with the new governance arrangements and new leader in place, TAFE will have a strong foundation for moving forward and building on the gains that have already been achieved.
The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) report completed in 2018 indicates that significant improvements to training have been achieved over a very short period. I would like to extend my congratulations to those in the TAFE SA organisation who have responded to the reviews and who have contributed to the improvements in training delivery in a short period. Positive steps are being made. However, I do wish to take this opportunity to highlight my concerns about how we have found ourselves in this situation today that has required our government to reform TAFE and articulate that reform through the A Fresh Start for TAFE SA document.
The indisputable truth is that TAFE SA lost its focus while the Labor government had control. The lack of emphasis of the previous Labor government on meeting the needs of business across the state through adequately resourcing and giving emphasis to the need for quality training is a sad legacy that we are now dealing with. The focus of the organisation on meeting budget cuts drew its focus away from quality training outcomes. The indisputable truth is that Labor did not support business, neglected the foundation on which the economy of the state is based and had no focus on training and upskilling workers for the future.
I will make a few points that I have noted from a local emphasis. An absolutely important educational arm of regional South Australia is to have TAFE or TAFE campuses, TAFE courses, backing up our regions. Over the last 10 to 20 years, personally I have noticed the backward step that the previous government took, the services and how they have been withdrawn.
Accreditation is more important than ever today for employees and employers to meet the strict standards that organisations like state and federal parliaments enforce on them. TAFE has also helped educate community citizens with the latest technology, changes and advancements—things like ordinary emails and computer programs. For those who were left behind, for general citizens wanting to upskill themselves as this changing world moves on, TAFE fills in those holes.
The OH&S standards we now adhere to in business for employers and employees have never been more difficult, and TAFE has played its role in making sure both businesses and employees meet those standards for both the outcome of the employer and the outcome of the employee, so the strategy is that an employee turns up at work and they go home that same day.
Rural campuses have helped train all future employees to our regions, and this includes the migrant sector. Migrants come from a different world to Australia; they are skilled in different areas and they need skilling and upskilling to meet our work standards. We do not lower the standards when migrants turn up in our country to work; we have to lift to them to our standards, and TAFE has played an important role in ensuring that these migrant workers can meet our standards, yet this has been failing them, along with the rest of Australia's workforce.
TAFE has been subject to scrutiny and has been found not to be meeting required standards. However, government can easily rectify this. In other words, this is our responsibility, government's responsibility, to take control of TAFE and its outcomes. I point out that, during the period 2000 to 2010, government initiated private sectors accrediting training courses; it was rorted. They talk about a training sector of that period, where tickets were handed out in Weet-Bix boxes. When you take on these employees, the skills required by employers are just missing. TAFE, by the fact that it does belong to government and can actually make sure that we do the right thing by these training courses, can be a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem.
It was interesting to hear from the previous member, the member for Port Adelaide, in her summing up of what they did for TAFE during the last 16 years while they were in government, and there are a couple of points I would like to reiterate. She refers to the management of the River Murray and thinks that it is very consistent with what TAFE has gone through, the fact that we have an independent authority, we look at it from an outside view looking in, and then it is up to us as a government, be it Labor or Liberal, to take on that advice, as she would put it.
It is ironic, as I think that this is where Labor lost its way, as they do need royal commissions and massive reviews, because they sit back and watch things unravel, rather than be part of a solution or any sort of outcome. It is almost like they fall on a sword and say, 'Oh, we need a review. We need a royal commission; this is how we fix it,' and a year later, after millions of dollars have been spent, they say, 'This is how we put it back into place,' rather than ask, 'What are the outcomes we want from the Murray-Darling Basin Plan? How do we work with everyone else who belongs to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and the other constituents involved in that?' and then, as with TAFE, work with employers and employees to make sure that TAFE represents what this state needs. As I have run out of time, I commend this motion to the house.
Mr BROWN: On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker, I draw your attention to the state of the house.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Again, member for Playford?
Mr BROWN: Yes.
A quorum having been formed:
The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN (Bragg—Deputy Premier, Attorney-General) (12:04): I rise to support the motion and to thank the member for Heysen for bringing it before the parliament. I oppose the amendment that has been submitted.
I have been in this house for quite a while and I remember the debates of the former government when corporatising TAFE. It is important to remember why they did that. They wanted to get rid of people from that structure, so they gutted it, all through the guise of being corporatised, and that is exactly what happened. Good people, working hard to provide a service in this state, left. That institution was smashed.
The member for Port Adelaide has some gall coming in here saying that they want to recognise the former Labor government for commissioning those reports, after she is caught like a possum in the spotlight, with the disaster that descended on to her desk about the disgraceful failure of the quality of some 16 random courses, all of which failed miserably. That is the history of this. I think that for once they should remain silent. I am reminded of what my mother used to say, 'If you haven't got something good to say about something, don't say anything at all.' I tell you: a tonne of bricks is going to fall onto their history.
I commend the Minister for Education for resurrecting what is an important service for South Australia. I also commend those left in charge of TAFE, who are working with the government to ensure that we have a restructured and important public sector service to provide the skills of today and tomorrow.
I feel a little bit embarrassed to follow the member for MacKillop, as I clearly should have done a TAFE course on shedhanding and I might have had another career. Nevertheless, our side of politics has been very clear and consistent in its commitment to practical education for those to be skilled to be part of our community, enjoy the benefits of employment and, of course, have an opportunity to prosper themselves. We have a history of that.
The passing late last year of Ted Carter, an agricultural scientist, reminded me of one example of this. He spent decades working in this field. After World War II, he helped all the new soldier settlers on Kangaroo Island to establish practical farming management to give them a chance to prosper. Some 10 years ago, there was a move by the University of Adelaide to sell three major stations which had been donated in bequests—Martindale, Munduney and Moralana—all in different climatic locations in South Australia. One of those stations is now a cattle station, I think, in the Minister for Energy's electorate.
An enormous amount of work went into trying to tell the government of the day, the Labor government, 'Please, don't let this happen. Don't let universities sell a base on which practical work could be done for the training for dryland farming and other farming management skills.' But what did they do? Nothing. The then minister, the member for Enfield, who lived in Springfield—he knew a lot about farming—did absolutely nothing about this.
What are we left with today? Fortunately, when the sale of those properties went through, the University of Adelaide also committed to practical education and accepted responsibility to ensure that the funds and proceeds from those stations be applied to practical farming skilling. I am very proud of them for making that decision. Sure, we put a bit of pressure on them; nevertheless, I am very proud of that because they needed to appreciate the significance of the agronomists and all the other specially skilled people in that particular field to be graduates, but we also need those who are actually growing the food, tending to the pastures and providing support to the stock, etc. This is all part of learning about pests, horticulture and all the rest of the things our minister for agriculture reminds us about.
This is food production for the future in South Australia. It has been very important in the past and it will continue to be very important. We must have institutions such as TAFE and a commitment to the philosophy of our side of politics to ensure that we have practical skilling capacity. TAFE is the public provider of that and that is why it is so important. We have other private providers. We have other academic institutions that are providers. If we look at the agricultural scheme, there is salt-resistant rice, pink rice and anything else, but we need practical application to grow the food and to ensure a high level of productivity and that the produce itself is protected.
I commend the motion. This is a critical service for South Australia, not only for our existing industries but for those of tomorrow. We had a French delegation in here this morning, and I was pleased to be able to host them for a very short time during their visit. They are very focused on cybersecurity and so are we. This is an area of industry in the future. We are dealing in this parliament with encryption in relation to warrants for police searches. These are all the technologies of the future that we need our next generation of people to be skilled in, so I strongly endorse the importance of maintaining practical education for skilling for today and tomorrow. I commend the motion to the house and thank the member for Heysen.
The Hon. D.G. PISONI (Unley—Minister for Industry and Skills) (12:10): I also rise to support the motion and congratulate the member for Heysen on bringing it to the house. I think it is important in supporting this motion that we reflect on where TAFE was on 17 March 2018. Quite frankly, it was a victim of neglect of the previous Labor government over many, many years. The Labor appointees to the board, the mechanism, became a reflection—
Mr BROWN: Point of order, sir: I draw your attention to the state of the house.
A quorum having been formed:
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Minister, you have the call.
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: Thank you very much, indeed, sir. It is terrific to have such an appreciative audience in the chamber. As I was saying, you just have to look at the history of TAFE prior to the change of government after the last election. We saw that the agenda of TAFE was actually driven by Treasury. We saw Treasury notes, as far as I understand, directing a reduction in number of TAFE staff.
The reports that were initiated by the previous government and completed as we came into office were damning of even that process because there was no strategic plan, no targeted plan, on how to make savings, other than a series of redundancies for TAFE staff without any consideration to what skills were going, what skills may have needed readjustment and what changes in strategy may have been needed in order to stop TAFE bleeding, both in student numbers and in income.
Of course, we know that the problems with vocational education in South Australia started with the introduction of Skills for All. We all remember an unleashing of funding for the vocational education sector in South Australia without any condition of job outcomes. We had a flood of companies coming from interstate.
I can remember—and I reported this to Tom Kenyon, who was the minister at the time—a franchise owner coming to me who wanted me to help them with a situation they were in. They had been approached by a training provider for a tick-in-the-box retail training course for their existing staff that they were getting money from Skills for All to deliver. They said, 'If you let us deliver this to your staff, we will go halves in the Skills for All training.' This is how poorly managed and how poorly thought out the government's Skills for All situation was.
They did not have a problem as franchisees and businesses. They did not have a problem with that, but what they had a problem with was that the franchisor tried to get his piece of the training payout from the franchisee because that was silent in the franchisee-franchisor agreement. We had the franchisor and the franchisee fighting over Skills for All money that they could put in their pockets because of this dodgy deal that was being done by these interstate fly-by-nighters the Labor government, through their poor management of skills training, allowed to compete against legitimate South Australian businesses.
There is no doubt that a number of South Australian businesses that had been delivering very strong fee-for-service training in the vocational sector in South Australia for a decade lost their businesses overnight because the interstate companies were quicker to get Skills for All funding and sucked the regular clients away from those South Australian businesses. That was the beginning. How did Labor deal with that? How did they deal with that when that problem was identified?
Overnight, without warning, they removed all but 15 per cent of the funding for the non-government sector, without any strategic plan, any strategic reasons or any targeting. They removed it overnight, and we saw people lose their houses. We saw businesses go, and we saw people not able to complete the training that they had started in legitimate businesses. We called meetings in Parliament House with the industry sector. They were furious about what had happened to them.
Unfortunately, we now have to rebuild that non-government sector. We need a non-government sector in South Australia. There are so many new training opportunities and training requirements that we need in South Australia. We cannot do it with a public provider alone, let alone a public provider that is going through a repair phase.
I would like to give credit to Alex Reid, who was the acting CEO of TAFE. I think she did a terrific job in very difficult times in preparing TAFE for the transition that the Minister for Education is moving it through at the moment. As the purchasing minister for vocational education in South Australia, I am very pleased to have a strong relationship with TAFE and be part of the repair process for TAFE in South Australia, at the same time ensuring that vocational education access is expanded to the regions in South Australia.
It is very important, of course, that regional South Australians have access to vocational education in the regions. If they cannot have access in the regions, we identified very early on the pathetic amount of money—$24—the previous Labor government provided employers to pay for per diem for the apprentices to come to Adelaide. We have lifted that now to $60 and increased the amount of money they get per kilometre for their travel.
That is a cost that employers are expected to pay in order for their apprentices to do their off-the-job training. Not only are we working on delivering more off-the-job training in regional South Australia but we are also making it easier for those apprentices or trainees who do need to travel if there is simply not the mass in some of the smaller regional towns for them to get vocational education.
I think we need to reflect on and question the quality of the selection of the TAFE Board under the Labor government. We all remember that Peter Vaughan of blessed memory did that dirty deal with the then shoppies union head, Peter Malinauskas, for public holidays on New Year's Eve and Christmas Eve, and of course it affected every single business in South Australia, regional South Australia in particular.
He was rewarded very generously with a board payment of around $95,000 a year, and look at the mess he made of TAFE. That did not bother Labor; they got their deal. They could say to their Labor mates, 'Look, we've done this for you; we've extorted this from the business community,' because that is how they operate.
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: That is how they operate. It is all about extortion and bullying with those on the other side—
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Order in the house! Minister—
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: —and then they reward their mates—
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Minister, just take a seat for the moment. The minister deserves to be heard in silence, and I feel sure that he is coming back to the intent of the motion in his remaining two minutes. Thank you, minister.
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: Of course, the good news is that is finished; that has gone. No longer will we see a situation in South Australia where deals are done with union mates. We, on our boards and in our organisations, have the best possible people to do those jobs and to run those organisations.
Evidence of that is the Industry Skills Councils within the Training and Skills Commission. The categories for those Industry Skills Councils came about through an exhaustive roundtable consultation process over a six-month period. We have married related sections so that they can work together to deliver the skills that industry needs. Industry needs to grow in South Australia.
The Labor Party's approach was to have a faux war with Canberra about fake news around submarines not being made in South Australia. While they ran that fake campaign, they were cutting vocational education opportunities in South Australia, which were the very skills we needed. It just shows what they are about: they are only interested in staying in office, and when they are not in office, they are only interested in getting back in.
Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (12:21): I rise to support the motion by the member for Heysen. The importance of TAFE to regional South Australia, including in my electorate of Mount Gambier, cannot be underestimated. Of the 80,000 students who study at TAFE SA, more than 25,000 are regionally based. Another 6,000 of these students are over the age of 55.
As a public education and vocational training provider, the accessible training that TAFE provides is often the only option for students seeking a trade such as hairdressing, beauty or automotive. They offer important training for aged-care and disability-care qualifications. The courses tie in with local industries to provide apprenticeships, and intersect with high schools and learning centres. One of TAFE SA's priorities, as outlined within the Strategic Plan 2016-2019, is to:
Understand our customers' needs through increased industry engagement to ensure courses reflect the priorities of each region in South Australia.
This is an important point. Each region, whether it be Mount Gambier or the Riverland, has different needs and priorities depending on the industries and emerging industries specific to their region. Recently, this government moved to implement regional health boards, which has been one of my priorities as the member for Mount Gambier. This is a hugely positive step and puts the power into the hands of regions when it comes to their local healthcare system. It is my view that TAFE SA would benefit from a similar model.
I have long campaigned for the decentralisation of government departments and this would be an excellent opportunity, with the new CEO at the helm, to begin the same process with TAFE. Decisions that impact local people should be made at the local level. If they are not, it leads to a disconnect with regional communities and results in poor outcomes in the delivery of training that is simply not relevant.
In Victoria, the TAFE institutes are relatively autonomous. They employ their own staff and have more autonomy when it comes to capital and physical infrastructure. In effect, they are able to run their own ship. A board comprising local people who truly understand the needs and priorities of the students and the region is the way forward, I believe. That way, funding can be distributed by the board in accordance with local needs.
Courses that are important to local industries will continue and expand. Procurement could still be done centrally, but the important decisions could be made by the board in consultation with the local community. I am a firm believer that decisions need to be made as close to the action as possible. Obviously, TAFE SA needs to be able to respond to our community at short notice.
This would also allow the avoidance of duplication in regional areas. Regional areas do not have the population base to have the same course offered multiple times by multiple agencies, so it would allow the board—let's call it the vocational education board—to best fit the needs of the community and, where possible, bring in private providers, or not duplicate services that private providers are able to provide. There are many examples of those in Mount Gambier.
I would also like to acknowledge the focus and support that this Liberal government is putting towards vocational education and supporting regional students to access courses that are not offered locally. One such example is a young lad who was doing electrical motor rewind business. The course was not available in Mount Gambier, yet just over the border, about an hour away, that course was available. Through some heavy negotiation we were able to have that student access the Victorian TAFE system to continue his training.
I was pleased to get a call from the training provider and the employer to tell me that this young student had actually completed his fourth year at the end of last year. The employer said to me that, if it were not for my intervention and being able to broker a deal with the Victorian TAFE, that student would not have been given the apprenticeship, because sending them to Adelaide for their training was just not feasible, from their point of view.
I would like to see some focus put on an area related to this, namely, where WorkCover intersects with training. By this, I mean: is a young person who is travelling to work or to training covered by WorkCover? We have had a situation in which a young apprentice who was attending training had his car roll over off the side of the road. We are in a continual discussion at the moment about whether that young person is actually covered or not. When we say 'going to training', people have a metropolitan mindset and think that we are just heading down the road. However, it could be that the young person is travelling from Mount Gambier to Adelaide, which is a 4½ or five-hour journey to go to training and then return.
To get some clarification around this would be extremely helpful in the case we are working on at the moment, about the young person being covered by WorkCover whilst on their way to training, which, if it happens to be in Adelaide, is a fair distance. I would like to see those changes clarified and put in black and white. With those few comments, I commend the motion to the house.
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER (Morialta—Minister for Education) (12:28): I am very pleased to be able to speak on the motion, and I thank the member for Heysen for his contribution. I thank other members who have contributed, including the member for Mount Gambier, who has just made some remarks. I think the specific importance of TAFE and the training sector in regional South Australia bears everyone's consideration.
However, it does not take away from the fact that the TAFE SA organisation, and the training sector as a whole, is critically important to South Australia as a whole for our social wellbeing and for our economic future. TAFE and the training sector are the bodies, the companies, the non-government trainers—TAFE SA is the largest and most significant one—and the groups that ensure that the skills needs of our businesses and industries, our defence industries and our social services can be met into the future.
We require skilled workforces to be able to leverage the opportunities that defence investment and business investment make. If they cannot get the skilled workforce from amongst South Australians, then we are not meeting our responsibilities. That is a fundamental reason as to why TAFE SA is so important. It is also critically important for the social wellbeing of our state.
We have 60,000 people going through the TAFE organisation every year to get themselves an improved skill set. That varies from students doing short courses in a whole range of things, which may be fee-for-service, to a very significant cohort of students undertaking certificate III, diplomas, and doing work as part of traineeships and apprenticeships towards their own desire to get a future, a career and a job. Many of them are students who are not on a university pathway at school. Many of them are students who could be on a university pathway, but have identified the truth: that a skilled or technical qualification can be an A-grade choice and should often be the first choice they make, rather than a fallback plan.
There are an awful lot of small business people out there and an awful lot of people with skills working in major organisations, government and non-government alike, who have a skilled qualification that has put them on the track to the best possible job. Often, an apprenticeship or a traineeship is the best possible choice for a young person thinking about their future. A strong TAFE SA organisation is utterly critical to our social wellbeing as a state and our economic future as a state. TAFE being the most significant one is utterly critical. That is why I think the member for Heysen has chosen to move a motion such as this today. It puts it front and centre on the parliament's agenda.
How do we best support our TAFE SA organisation to be all it can be, help our state to be all it can be, and help so many young people—tens of thousands of young people right across South Australia each year—to be the best they can be and live their best possible life? There is probably no organisation outside of the education department that touches on more lives. The former government did not treat TAFE SA with the respect it deserved as an organisation. They certainly did not give it the oversight, the governance or the leadership that it deserved as an organisation.
Critically, the former government did not provide the people of South Australia—the young students of South Australia thinking about their futures nor the businesses and industries in South Australia wanting to make the most out of their opportunities—with the oversight, leadership and governance that the TAFE SA organisation deserved. The Nous report into quality at TAFE and the Moran-Bannikoff report into strategic capabilities of TAFE put that front and centre: wasted years, failures of leadership and incompetence.
Can I tell you of the extraordinary gall of the shadow minister for education, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who came in here and moved the amendment that she moved today in some sort of fig-leaf justification that the Labor Party now, all of a sudden, cares about TAFE. They have spent the last 10 months refusing to appear in this parliament or ask any questions in question time about TAFE. They have spent 10 months with nothing to say about the TAFE SA organisation, its future or supporting its work, and without giving an apology for the extraordinary abrogation of responsibility that they undertook while they were in power.
They have now developed some talking points and they come in here after 10 months—11 months, even. It has taken them 11 months to write some talking points about the TAFE SA organisation. Their talking points amount to, 'Look at us, we were really good. We commissioned these reviews.' These reviews were commissioned at the end of 16 years of shameful failure by those opposite, by the Labor Party, to businesses in South Australia, to industries in South Australia, to the students seeking vocational education in South Australia and to the TAFE SA organisation.
It was those opposite who appointed the board. Then, in December of the year before last, they finally sacked the chair and accepted the resignation of the CE. It was the failures of those opposite in leadership that led to the very problems identified in the Nous review and the Moran-Bannikoff review. It was those opposite who refused to conduct themselves in a manner befitting what is required of a government in ensuring that our young people have the necessary quality education and the organisation capable of delivering it.
Let's not forget what triggered all of this. It was in this parliament that I think the leader of the opposition then, the Premier now, asked the education minister—the member for Port Adelaide, who has moved this amendment—a question about whether there were any problems with quality at TAFE SA. The minister, as she was then, took it on notice. The Labor Party's response was to put out tweets mocking the Liberal Party for raising at the beginning of a parliamentary sitting week what they thought was a non-issue. It was a non-issue according to Labor. And of course it was because they did not care enough to get involved and to listen to the complaints and concerns about the TAFE SA organisation raised by non-government organisations over an extended period of time.
Let's remind ourselves about the quality issues identified by ASQA: 16 courses chosen at random, 16 courses audited, 15 recommended in the initial report by ASQA to be not just suspended but removed from TAFE's scope entirely, and one suspended—16 Fs, and 15 of them the worst sort. The fact is that, after a couple of months of heavy work, two of these courses were redeemed by the time the final report came in. That was great, and it was done as a result of an enormous amount of work at TAFE SA.
Four of those 16 courses did not need to be redeemed because they had been removed from TAFE's scope altogether—they had been superseded—and 10 at the end of the final report remained as failures and at risk of suspension. It was not until April last year, five months after ASQA's final report, that ASQA finally gave those courses the all clear. It was an enormous body of work. I am pleased that this house seems to be on trajectory to congratulate everybody in the TAFE organisation, from the interim CE right down through all the lecturers and everyone who did an enormous amount of work in getting those courses back on track.
About 50 per cent of all staff members in the TAFE organisation have had some involvement in the quality project since this government has been in office, and some of that started before we were in office. The reason it had to be done came as a result of 16 years of failure by a Labor government that did not give this body, this important institution, the oversight, governance and leadership that the institution, our students and businesses and industries deserved from a government.
This government has been quite different. The quality work has been partly as a result of the Liberal Party's election commitments and partly as a result of our initial reactions, our initial responses to the Nous and Moran-Bannikoff reviews, as outlined on budget day in A Fresh Start for TAFE SA document, which is available on the internet, if the shadow minister is interested in looking it up. It was also partly as a result of the specific bodies of work done by staff at TAFE SA, which has improved the quality framework.
We now have a director in TAFE, a senior leadership person focused on quality. We have an academic board reporting to the board. We have a new board comprising people with skill sets in business, industry, vocational education. This is a new concept to those opposite. I thank them for their appointment of Jo Denley as the deputy chair and the acting chair. She did an enormous body of work and should personally be thanked by us all for the work she did. She remains on the board. The board is now functioning as a board should. Quality processes are in place, as they should be. Oversight processes are in place, as they should be, and governance processes are in place, as they should be.
There is still more work to do at TAFE because we are on a constant and steady trajectory of improvement to ensure that we can be the best government we can be, that we can have the best possible facilities and opportunities for our young people. There is still work to do. Over the last year, the transformation in TAFE has been extraordinary. The optimism in the staff has been extraordinary. The $107 million reinvested in the TAFE SA organisation by the Marshall Liberal government in last year's budget has made an extraordinary difference to the optimism of everybody involved in TAFE SA.
ASQA, the national quality regulator, responded in December last year with a clean bill of health for all those quality issues. We have gone from 16 failures to 16 clean bills of health. TAFE SA is on the right track. TAFE SA has a fresh start. I urge all members to oppose this nonsense amendment and support the member for Heysen's motion.
The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE (Chaffey—Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development) (12:38): I, too, rise to support the member for Heysen's motion. The Minister for Education has so eloquently described the situation that TAFE now finds itself in. There is a future for TAFE.
As the leading training organisation in South Australia, TAFE has been dealt a serious blow. Its reputation has been tarnished, but it is once again in good hands. Leadership was missing through a lack of acknowledgement from a government that spent 16 years covering their own tracks without having the ability to support an institution, to support not just the people, not just the trainers, not just the administrators, not just the people who have been through the TAFE institution to be skilled, to come away with a qualification. We now see that there is a bright future for TAFE.
I will touch a little bit on what TAFE has meant to many people, particularly those in the electorate of Chaffey. As the Minister for Industry and Skills so elegantly puts—and I think he is on KPIs for how many times he has told this house—he has a trade and he was once was an apprentice. He now has some competition because we know that the member for MacKillop is also a tradie—welcome aboard—and so am I.
As an apprentice toolmaker, I did my time at GMH at Woodville in the tool room. I was very lucky because, back in those days, GMH was very good at providing great apprenticeships and qualifications and the working environment was second to none. I went on to train and skill incoming apprentices at GMH, not only in the apprentice training centre but in the tool room. It gave me the ability to give back what I had received after one of the great decisions of my career, which was to take up an apprenticeship and to use it at any opportunity throughout my adult working life.
One of the great things about an apprenticeship now, whether you are talking about one of the traditional trades or one of the traditional skills, is that it is far reaching. We look at the capacity that comes within traditional trades. We now look at horticulture and agriculture. We look at child care, transport, hospitality, information technology and particularly food and wine now. South Australia is so highly regarded around the world. We have to understand how important traineeships, vocational skills and apprenticeships are to regional South Australia in particular.
I want to touch on the fact that I attended the Berri Rotary Vocational Awards on Friday night. It was great to see that, in the Riverland and the Mallee, we have about 900 apprentices currently under training. The vocational awards are the largest vocational awards in regional Australia. That is a great feather in the Riverland and Mallee's cap. We know how important it is that we train our young and even our more mature students to remain in the region, to remain in the Riverland, and do a great job.
As I said, there are 900 apprentices and trainees currently in training. I would like to name some of the award winners. I was lucky enough to present Jacob Saunders with the Electrical/Air Conditioning Industry Award. There is more to come. Samantha Issom received the VET Post Student Award, and Sophie Taylor was the School-Based Trainee of the Year. Sydney Searle won the VET Student of the Year award, whilst Bradley Lloyd won the Trainee of the Year award.
I would like to put a shout out to Georgia Elliott, the trainee at my electorate office. She has been there for 12 months and is an outstanding Riverland student who came on board as part of my team and has done a great job. She is now moving to bigger and better things. She is moving down to Adelaide to do a diploma at Flinders University. It was a great opportunity for her to do a gap year at the Chaffey electorate office and she will now move down to the uni.
Another interesting person is Dominique Cabucos. He won the School-Based Apprentice of the Year award. As I said, I presented Jacob Saunders with his award at the end of the night. He was awarded Apprentice of the Year. He is an electrical apprentice at SA Water and has done an outstanding job. Tahlia Price won the Hairdressing Industry Award, and Benjamin Pilgrim won the Building and Construction Industry Award.
Jack Mitchell won the Cookery Industry Award, whilst Luke Bacskai won the Automotive and Diesel Industry Award. He sat at the table with me and is a bright young lad with a great future working at Berri Diesel Injection Service. Tristan Jackson received the Engineering Industry Award. What it showed was that the apprentices, the trainees and the vocational awards in my electorate are second to none. They are the largest in the nation.
In my presentation, I also acknowledged the employers. Without the employers allowing those trainees and apprentices to do their schooling, the curricular activity that they have to undertake, it would not happen. It is important to acknowledge not only the employers but also the parents, the families and the friends. They are the ones who get these trainees and apprentices out of bed in the morning and make sure they turn up for work. I know that there are many opportunities and many distractions when going through traineeships and apprenticeships, but making sure that our young ones in particular get to work on a daily basis is very important.
The EML Game Changer program in the Riverland was a mentoring program for future leaders. It was a pilot program in the Riverland and it was an outstanding success. I spoke to a number of those program recipients on a regular basis, to give them some motivational speaking, to make sure that they had the ability to see a future and to make sure that they understood that there are challenges in life but that it is about how the game changes, particularly entering the workforce and coming away from, in some instances, a dark place or a troubled background. By and large, the EML program was an outstanding success.
As the Minister for Education said, TAFE has been in crisis for a long time. Particularly in the Riverland there were 64 students caught up in the TAFE crisis after 16 TAFE courses were put into question. There were 64 students who were given a very uncertain future: 12 in cookery and 52 in aged care. That uncertainty drove many of those regional students out of the Riverland and down to Adelaide looking for another future, looking for a training opportunity so that they could get a job, could get a qualification and have a future.
A lot of these students will come back to their grassroots. They will come back to the Riverland or back to the Mallee because that is what they know so well. The Riverland and the Mallee are so reliant on the return of students and young adults to come back and be part of what regional South Australia is looking for so much, and that is a skilled workforce. Particularly in horticulture and agriculture, we see that there is a great future, and the value-adding of both horticulture and agriculture is as a result of the wine and food industry.
This motion is very important to this side of the house in understanding the need for a TAFE that has the confidence to continue. We also understand that what we have seen over a long period of time is that those on the other side, Labor, butchered TAFE and that we, as the Marshall Liberal government, are here to rebuild it. We are here to instil confidence. We are here to give lecturers and people within the institution, the leadership group, the support they need because we know that a good training institution is part of training our future. I commend the motion to the house.
Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (12:48): I rise to support this motion by the member for Heysen:
That this house—
(a) notes the reports of the Quality Review and the Strategic Capability Review into TAFE SA;
(b) welcomes the government's response to these reports as outlined in A Fresh Start for TAFE SA;
(c) congratulates those in the TAFE SA organisation who have contributed to improvements in training delivery for South Australian students; and
(d) expresses serious concerns about the failures of government oversight that led to the concerning findings identified in the reviews into TAFE SA.
There were some serious findings, and it showed the lack of respect that the previous Labor government had for TAFE and in training future people to different trades and experience so that they could strengthen the South Australian economy and businesses.
It is such a disgrace that when a random audit was done 16 out of 16 failures happened from that audit. They have since been put on the way to being remedied or have been remedied. The issue we have is that in this space we have other training providers who obviously have to cut their cloth. They have to make it operate and they have to do it effectively within budgets and on time lines, yet under the previous Labor government we saw TAFE being put up like a bloated organisation that did not deliver outcomes and caused a lot of distress within other competing training providers in this space.
Thank goodness we have come into government. It is not just in regard to TAFE. The general state of South Australia is extremely pleased that we have come in to right the ship of this state so we can support business, so we can support home owners and so we can support training. As the Minister for Industry explained, we need to get that training back on track. We saw the previous Labor government let training go. Just as we have all these shipbuilding programs and submarine-building programs coming into South Australia, all of a sudden we find out that we have not had enough people trained up, because of the previous government's attitude to training, to take over these worthwhile projects and worthwhile jobs that will be such a boon for the South Australian economy for many years to come.
I was intrigued to hear the contribution of the Deputy Speaker, the member for Flinders, about on-farm training. Yes, I was part of that in the early 1980s as well. It was a good course that went through a whole range of procedures, whether it was sheep handling, wool handling, shearing or tractor driving. I just want to acknowledge Chris Trethewey—that is a good Kangaroo Island name. I ran into him a few years ago; it was very nice to catch up with him. He did excellent teaching for us as young men in that program, and he set us on our paths in the farming industry.
This is the type of training that needs to go on. I acknowledge the wool handling and shearing training that are so vital to this state. We have seen across the nation sheep numbers dropping probably something like 100 million from where they were at their peak. There were a lot of other breeds of sheep coming in that do not need shearing and that kind of thing. It is a vital industry that we need to support into the future.
It is almost amusing that the other day, as a former shearer, I told my staff I had to go down to a shearing school at Ki Ki, at the family shed of Trevor and Craig Watts, and have a discussion about wool handling with the students and the lecturer. 'Being a former shearer,' I said, 'I better shear a couple.'
An honourable member interjecting:
Mr PEDERICK: Well, I was pleased and a little bit surprised: I managed to knock them out in four minutes each. I did one and thought, 'Well, I've done one; I better do another one.' It was just nice to pick up the handpiece again, but my body felt like I had shorn 200, and I had only done two.
The Hon. V.A. Chapman interjecting:
Mr PEDERICK: I did have a singlet. It was a big singlet. It is one of those vital rural industries that we really do need to support to make sure we get the right outcomes into the future, supporting our farmers and graziers at such a tough time in recent times. As we have pointed out, there is a clear need for reform in the vocational education and training system in South Australia. As I have indicated, the former government totally failed the training sector, highlighted by the Skills for All blowout and then the WorkReady mess.
At the same time, the former Labor government's oversight of TAFE SA and TAFE SA's leadership failed staff, students and the people of South Australia. The Australian Skills Quality Authority findings in 2017 of TAFE South Australia highlighted serious issues of quality across all qualifications that were audited. The failings of those audits have been mentioned in various speeches from this side of the house. It is good to see that TAFE South Australia is back on the right track. I, too, in my closing comments would like to acknowledge the fine work of Alex Reid and also the new board and the new leadership in TAFE. I wish them all the best in steering this ship into brighter outcomes in the future.
Mr TEAGUE (Heysen) (12:55): Conscious of the time, I thank all members who have contributed to the debate on this important motion. I indicate that I oppose the amendment proposed by the member for Port Adelaide, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Otherwise, I thank the members for Flinders, Port Adelaide, MacKillop, Bragg (the Deputy Premier), Unley (the Minister for Industry), Mount Gambier, Chaffey (the Minister for Agriculture and Regional Development) and Hammond, and especially the Minister for Education for his important contribution to this debate. I commend the motion to the house.
Amendment negatived; motion carried.