Ms FLINT (Boothby—Government Whip) (18:40): I'm pleased to be speaking after the member for Fraser to inject some reality into this debate, because the Morrison government is investing record amounts in our education, skills and training unlike the Labor Party, who presided over the greatest fall in apprenticeship numbers on record in 2012-13. When they were in government, the number of apprenticeships and trainee commencements fell by 85,000 in a single year. That is extraordinary. It's a terrible indictment on the previous Labor governments.
In comparison, our government is working hard to fix the disarray caused by Labor. For the past six years, the Liberal government has been working to repair the damage inflicted by Labor's cuts to Australia's vocational education and training sector. Labor's cuts included: cuts to the apprenticeship training fee voucher program and the shared completion incentive, cuts to the Commonwealth trade learning scholarship and apprenticeship wage top-up, cuts to incentives for employers of Australian apprentices undertaking their apprenticeships or traineeships at the certificate II level, cuts to the commencement and recommencement payments for Australian apprentices undertaking their apprenticeship at the diploma and advanced diploma level, and cuts to the completion payment for employers of existing Australian apprentices in non-skills-shortage areas. This was a cumulative $241.6 million cut to Australian apprenticeship incentives.
The good news, though, is that supporting apprenticeships and especially getting more young people into apprenticeships is an integral part of our government's plan to grow the economy and to grow jobs. Our
government are getting more young Australians into jobs because we're investing in new initiatives targeted towards increasing participation in apprenticeships, including: $156.3 million for new additional identified skills shortage payments to provide incentives for employers and apprentices in areas of national skills shortage, $44 million for new streamlined incentives for Australian apprenticeships program to make it simpler and easier for employers to take on an apprentice or a trainee, another $60 million investment for a further 1,630 places by expanding the Australian apprentice wage subsidy trial—this is on top of the $393 million investment already provided every year to employers under the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program.
Additionally—it doesn't end there—our government have made available up to $1.5 billion in the Skilling Australians Fund over five years to help create many thousands of extra apprenticeships so Australians can get the skills they need to secure a good job and a good career.
The measures I've just outlined illustrate just some of the ways our government is restoring confidence in apprenticeships. Of course, helping Australian workers, especially our young people, develop skills makes
good economic sense. The Morrison government understands that enhanced labour market productivity and increased economic investment and all of the associated benefits that come with that can only be achieved if we have a skilled workforce. For this reason, I'm so pleased our government is investing $525 million to upgrade and modernise the vocational education and training sector with our Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package. This package delivers new measures supporting Australians to skill, reskill and upskill, and the additional identified skills shortage payment will boost existing incentives for areas of identified skills needs to support up to 80,000 new apprenticeships over five years.
Around this time last year, I was delighted to visit a wonderful local family business in my electorate, Claridge Crash, with the David Pisoni, South Australian Minister for Innovation and Skills, and the Honourable
Michaelia Cash, Minister for Employment Skills, Small and Family Business, to talk about our plans to grow apprenticeships in South Australia. Thanks to the Morrison and Marshall Liberal governments' joint commitment to extend the Skilling Australians Fund, an additional 20,800 apprenticeships and traineeships will be created in South Australia over the next four years, helping more South Australians get the skills that they need and helping them to gain and retain a job. Similarly, I was delighted to host Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in my electorate, where we met with local builder Dave, his apprentices and Master Builders SA to discuss how our apprenticeships are helping the building industry as well. I'm delighted that we are investing so heavily in apprenticeships around the nation.