18 October 2023

Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (19:45): I'll speak about local jobs in my electorate, the new National Skills Agreement and the employment white paper. Recently I visited JBS meat processing plant at Dinmore, after JBS announced it will create more than 500 new local jobs. JBS is the biggest single non-government employer in the city of Ipswich. To support local employment and increase demand for Aussie beef, the Dinmore plant will implement a second shift, to start early next year, and this will take the number of people employed at the site to over 1,800. In conjunction with JBS, I've written to local high-school principals to invite them to visit JBS Dinmore on 26 October to learn more about the exciting school-leaver opportunities available to their students. This round table will be really important. The principals will learn about the new flexible work initiatives on offer and the JBS school program, which will provide school based traineeships and clear pathways to employment for school leavers.

This week the National Cabinet agreed to unlock billions of dollars to build Australian skills and prosperity. The landmark five-year National Skills Agreement will embed national cooperation and strategic investment in our vocational education and training sector. The Albanese Labor government is prepared to invest $12.6 billion to expand and transform access to the VET sector, support quality training and implement reforms to address critical skills needs. This investment will include an extra $2.4 billion in flexible funding to deliver skills for critical and emerging industries including clean energy and the net zero transformation of the economy, advanced manufacturing, food, national security, construction, and care and support services, as well as to ensure Australia's digital and technological capacity is improved. This new investment is on top of the $414 million already committed to deliver 300,000 fee-free TAFE places from 2024.

We value and support TAFE. We believe it's at the heart of our education system. Australians are getting the skills they need, under this government. The previous government was defined by a decade of dithering and dysfunction. Nowhere was this more evident than in the VET sector. The utterly ineffective coalition government failed to land a national skills agreement with any state or territory. The TAFE sector has endured periods of underfunding, impacts of deregulation, loose rules on market entry, a lack of national cohesion and an obsession for competition at the expense of collaboration. This new agreement will bring people together.

Last year I hosted the Blair Jobs Summit in my electorate, and over 30 participants attended from the public and private sectors. They included Tivoli Social Enterprises, Q Shelter, JBS and West Moreton Health. Ipswich is one of the fastest-growing areas in Australia. We have enormous employment opportunities and potential for new investments in food and beverage manufacturing, meat processing, biotech, IT, defence industry and many others. This summit raised issues about skills and training, including addressing rising unemployment; the housing crisis, which was a recurring theme; and homelessness. These were all raised at the summit.

A year on from the national Jobs and Skills Summit, the Albanese government has released an employment white paper entitled Working future. The white paper presents a vision for a dynamic and inclusive labour market in which everyone can secure fairly paid work and provides a road map to ensure more local employers and workers are able to meet, and make the most of, the big shifts underway in our economy and our society. This government's vision is underpinned by ambitious objectives, including a new, bolder full-employment objective to create an economy where everyone who wants a job is able to find one, without having to search too long. The white paper presents 31 future reform directions to guide the government's policymaking and consultation with industry, unions, the education sector and civil society organisations. It builds on the foundation of last year's national Jobs and Skills Summit and is informed by its extensive consultation and input across government, with more than 400 valuable submissions from stakeholders. It will help secure new opportunities for disadvantaged workers, including youths, mature-age workers, First Nations people, people from core communities, people with disabilities and veterans. It will provide fee-free TAFE places for our skilled workforce, at the heart establishing jobs and skills, reviewing our migration system and reforming welfare to work and Indigenous employment programs and disability employment services models.

These initiatives will build on substantial reforms. I commend them and look forward to the jobs summit in Ipswich.