Interview on FIVEaa Mornings with Leon Byner
South Australia’s share of GST; Establish of the Maritime Technical College in SA
9:15 AM

Leon Byner: Let’s talk with Senator Simon Birmingham. Simon, what’s your contribution to this?

Simon Birmingham: Well, good morning, Leon. The data is now clear that Jay Weatherill and his Government are swimming in additional federal funding that’s flown through in the recent years. Since 2013-14, we’ve seen GST revenues increase from $4.6 billion going to South Australia to now $6.4 billion forecast for 2017-18 – that’s growth of $1.8 billion in extra money and, as you’ve just heard from Darryl there, $1400 a year extra per person in South Australia, compared with other jurisdictions; that’s on top of increased funding in my portfolio, in schools, of $177 million since 2014, while we’ve seen, of course, as you and I have discussed before, the State Government reduce its spending in schools, so you’ve got to ask ‘where is the money going?’ and you’re right to absolutely say that the Government needs to reprioritise and say it needs to look at how it can actually grow jobs, grow investment in SA and that means looking at how you take off state taxes, not increase them.

Leon Byner: Simon, while I’ve got you there, you gave what I think is a very good training gift to SA and I note that many industries argue that, when they’re looking for workers, skilled workers, and often for jobs that are well-paid, we do not have the skill base in South Australia. Would this not be… and you’re the Minister… would this not be a good time to have a serious look at school-based apprentices?

Simon Birmingham: Well, the Maritime Technical College which you referenced before – the $25-million commitment we made on Friday, coming on top of the submarine and future frigates programs, multi-billion dollar investments – is an opportunity for us to look at how we really get all of the skills necessary to ensure naval shipbuilding becomes a phenomenal success in South Australia and tapping right down into the school level will be part of what we hope that programme can do. We’re already doing it in a couple of places, through what are known as P-TECH programmes, Pathways in Technology, which are really looking to get schools connected to industry through either school-based apprenticeships or other industry school training mechanisms that really can ensure that students coming through Years 10, 11 and 12 have the opportunity to work not just on theoretical studies but on practical work with real employers to help them skill up for the jobs that will be there in the future.

Leon Byner: Simon Birmingham, thanks for joining us today.