March 18, 2015  |  Adjournment

Ballarat jobs forum

Mr HOWARD(Buninyong) — I raise a matter for the attention of the Minister for Employment. I ask that the minister organise a jobs forum in Ballarat, bringing together local businesses, community leaders, unions and key stakeholders to drive employment opportunities in our region. The passing of the government’s Back to Work Bill 2014 last night marks a turning point; businesses in our state can again move forward with confidence, following four years of Liberal Party neglect, with no jobs plan, during which local manufacturing, TAFE and, sadly, employment pathway programs were abandoned. Now it is time to get our region and our state back to work.

The government has been getting on with the job from day one. Just over a fortnight ago I was proud to stand with the Premier, the Minister for Public Transport and my parliamentary colleague the member for Wendouree to announce that the government will purchase 30 new X’trapolis train carriages, which will be built in Ballarat. This is a major investment in Ballarat jobs and shows our strong commitment to local manufacturing.

The features of the Back to Work Bill will drive employment opportunities by providing funding incentives for employers who provide full-time work to young people, the long-term unemployed and those who have been retrenched, while the government’s Regional Jobs Fund and the pipeline of investment in local schools, health services, emergency services, recreation facilities, roads and community infrastructure will give our region the economic shot in the arm it so desperately needs. In my electorate and across the Ballarat region this includes: upgrades at Ballarat Secondary College and Phoenix P–12 Community College; the establishment of a new tech school in Ballarat; an industry hub at Federation University Australia TAFE; an early years centre in Sebastopol; a new catheterisation lab at Ballarat Base Hospital; a new fire station at Buninyong; and major investment at Eureka Stadium, Sovereign Hill, Canadian State Park and the Ballarat station precinct.

This great range of investment the government is putting directly into the Ballarat region will help to create jobs. Now is the time to bring together the best and brightest in our region to collaborate, innovate and expand opportunities to create local jobs. I look forward to working with the minister and my community to deliver this outcome.

Ms ALLAN(Minister for Employment) — I am very pleased to respond to the matters raised by my great colleagues in the regions the members for Geelong and Buninyong. It is not surprising that they each raised matters about jobs and employment issues in their local communities. They are strong advocates for job creation and job investment in their areas and, importantly, for protecting jobs in their local communities.

The member for Buninyong asked me to work with him to organise a jobs forum in Ballarat. I am absolutely delighted to agree to that action which he has sought, and I look forward to organising that forum in the very near future. Ballarat needs this sort of work done in the local area because we saw how badly Ballarat suffered at the hands of the former government, which not only did not have a jobs plan for the state but did not have a jobs plan for regional Victoria. We saw unemployment increase in the regions and there were many challenges. I was very pleased to be in Ballarat with the Premier recently where we announced that the government would be putting in an order for five additional X’trapolis trains and the construction of 30 new carriages. This will not only be a great boost to our public transport network but it will be a great jobs boost as well. I am very pleased to be working with the member for Buninyong on that.

As I said, the member for Geelong also had a jobs focus in her adjournment request, and I am very pleased to agree to her request that I work with her in the Geelong community and to meet with community leaders to discuss employment matters in that area. The story of Geelong and the region is well known in relation to the challenges it is facing. That is why we had a particular focus on Geelong and a range of very strong commitments to the Geelong community through our election commitments. We have funds like the Geelong fund, the regional investment fund and the Future Industries Fund that will be able to support the Geelong community and, most importantly, create and protect jobs in those areas.