TAFE SA Reviews

Motion

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.