August 24, 2020

House of Representatives

National Skills Commissioner Bill 2020
Senate Amendment

The amendment the Senate has made to Section 7(a) of this bill is a good one for regional Australia and it’s on that basis that I support it. I will always support good policy that backs regional Australia and my electorate of Indi, irrespective of where it comes from.

I want to emphasise, however, that the genesis of this amendment comes from an amendment I proposed last sitting calling on the Government in the House to insert an almost identical bullet point into the same section to ensure that the National Skills Commission did not leave regional Australians behind.

The Joyce Review, which called for this National Skills Commission be established, specifically recommended it have a particular focus on regional skill and workforce development.

I wanted to ensure that happened.

Instead, the Government voted down that amendment when I proposed it in the last sitting in the House. The Government tried to push the bill through with a blind spot on regional Australia. It was only until I worked with crossbench colleagues in the Senate to put this in front of the Government again that they finally capitulated and introduced their own, essentially identical, amendment.

It is disappointing that this Government will only support regional Australia when the arithmetic is stacked against them. It is disappointing that this Government is not on the front foot with regional communities like mine.

There are massive opportunities in regions like Indi that can be unlocked if we have the right data to back robust VET (vocational education and training) and workforce development policies.

We have heard in recent weeks of more concerns within the community, and even from within the government itself, that regional Australia is being left behind again in the new Jobs Ready Graduate Package and the slow uptake of this government on the recommendations of the Napthine Review. I urge the government not to leave it until the consideration in detail stage again to realise that regional Australia is important.

I will always support good policy for regional Australia, irrespective of where it comes from, and it’s on that basis that I support these amendments.

The National Skills Commission Bill 2020 amendment I moved on June 10, 2020.

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