The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Wayne Swan

Wayne Swan

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013

15 July 2008

Joint Doorstop Interview
with
The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Deputy Prime Minister

Brisbane

15 July 2008

SUBJECT: Trade Training Centres, Digital Education Revolution, Emissions Trading Scheme

JULIA GILLARD:

It's a great pleasure to be here today, to be joined by Wayne Swan, the Treasurer, and by Rod Welford, the Queensland Education Minister. The three of us are here to mark another significant milestone in the Rudd Labor Government's Education Revolution.

And the significant milestone that we're marking today is the announcement of the first round of successful Trades Training Centres project.

We promised the Australian people before the last election that we would invest $2.5 billion in bringing Trades Training Centres into secondary schools. We did that because we want to see the retention rate lifted to 90 per cent for Year 12 or equivalent. We did that because we wanted the education that our high schools provide to join with real skills development for the jobs that Australians are going to do. We wanted to make sure that education and skills formation were part of the same process. We wanted to make sure our high schools were linked with our industries. It's all about real training for real jobs. It's all about Australian kids getting an opportunity to get the skills they need for their future. It's about training in traditional trades, but it's also about training in emerging industries.

We asked schools around the country to become part of this program through round one and today I am able to announce that we have determined to award $90 million to the first round of applicants for their successful projects.

We will be having a second round of $300 million opening on the 23rd of July and closing in October this year. So this is the outcome of round one, with round two to follow hot on its heels, because the Government is very serious about making sure that high schools around the country have the benefit of trades training within their high school.

We had a competitive process for the first round. We received 80 applications involving 200 schools. The amount of money that was sought was around 200 million. We have determined to award $90 million to 34 lead schools to benefit a total of 96 schools around the country.

Importantly, around a third of the centres are located in rural or regional areas, and nearly half of these schools have student populations which involve significant percentages of Indigenous students.

The reason we have the concept of 'lead schools'—34 lead schools—involving 96 schools in total, is many schools choose to come together in a cluster arrangement to maximise the value of the trades training opportunity that they want to offer to students in each of their schools.

Now there's no better place to launch the outcome of round one than where we are today in this Aviation High School. This is a school that is an exemplar of involving industry in training for the future. This is a school that already has a proud track record in bringing real training for real jobs into the school itself. This is a school that works in partnership with significant aviation partners—including Qantas, Boeing and Australian Aerospace—to offer the children here a unique opportunity to get real training in the jobs demanded by our aerospace and aviation industries. And as we all know, we are so short of those vital jobs.

The Government's investment directly in this school will be $1.4 million and it will be used for the construction of a new aeroskills workshop. It's important to note that the students who are studying here are getting qualifications and certificates recognised by, and valued by, the aviation industry. This is exactly what we want to see happening through our Trades Training program—real training for real jobs; Australian kids studying and getting the skills they will need for their future.

It's a great pleasure to be here today. I'll turn to the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, for some comments and, as I'm sure, the Queenslanders in the crowd would know of course Wayne is the local member for this area.

TREASURER:

Thanks very much. Thanks very much Deputy Prime Minister and can I also acknowledge Rod Welford, the State Education Minister.

Look it's a great pleasure to see that all of the hard work here at Aviation High has been rewarded with this grant. What's going on at Aviation High is really part of a 21st century Education Revolution—bringing together industry, state education and the power of the Commonwealth Government to have an Education Revolution.

A few years ago the school was known as Hendra High and it's pretty fair to say that it was looking for a future. And that future has been found in aviation—bringing together local business, the local community and the skills of our teachers and the skills of our workforce, in truly a 21st century innovation—Aviation High.

Talking to the students here today—they're from all over Australia. Sure, there are some locals, but there are plenty from elsewhere in Queensland and also, through the rest of Australia. What we're seeing here is a recognition that education in the 21st century has to be up-to-date, the technology has to be first-class and the skills of the educators also have to match that. And all of that is brought together here at Aviation High.

It's a really great pleasure as a local member to see our Education Revolution being implemented here with this grant today. Thank you.

ROD WELFORD:

Can I acknowledge Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan as well, Director-General Rachel Hunter, Phil Cooper, the Principal of the School here, the school captains and students here today. Mild apologies to the audience, we have to face this way rather than squint into the sunshine so that the cameras can get us.

I'm very proud that Aviation High, one of our specialist schools here in Queensland, is a key player in this National Education Revolution, in particular, the role out of the Trade Centres for Schools.

Of the initial allocation by the Federal Government, Queensland will be receiving $19 million and, of that, $1.4 million as Julia just said, is going to Aviation High here to upgrade its facilities in installing new aircraft, control systems facility and upgrade the design workshops. That'll be part of 11 schools, lead schools, just like Aviation High in Queensland, who will share in nearly $19 million. Sorry, nearly $19.5 million.

Eleven lead schools in Queensland will share $19.5 million out of these Trade Centres Funds to be part of the Education Revolution that will provide for the skills that we need to fill the jobs of the future. Nowhere is that more significant than in aviation.

Aviation is an industry that's gone from virtually zero to nearly 8000 jobs in the last half-a-dozen years, and Aviation High is the only school of its kind in the country and at the forefront of that.

Trade skills are fundamentally important here in Queensland. We're one of the fastest growing states in Australia and we are suffering the skills shortage as much as anywhere in the country. So places like Aviation High and our other gateway schools are at the forefront of providing trade skills for students going on both to trade and engineering professions in the aviation industry.

Queensland has more than 40 per cent of the school-based apprenticeships and traineeships of the entire country and over 70 per cent of the school-based apprenticeships in the country. So when it comes to preparing young people for future trade and career pathways, Queensland schools like Aviation High are leading the nation.

The Trade Centres for Schools Program that Julia Gillard is supporting us with, is going to be a great boost to those programs that we're running in Queensland that will keep us ahead of the pack, and provide young Queenslanders in our schools with the skills they need to go into industries—fast-growing industries like aviation.

Thanks Julia and the Federal Government. It's great to have you and the Treasurer here, as the local member. From my perspective, Aviation High is a great example of how this, and our other schools, link to industry are making our significant difference to the opportunities for students in Queensland.

Can I just mention that Aviation High has five industry partners—Boeing Australia, Aviation Australia Training Centre, Brisbane Airport Corporation, Australian Aerospace and GE Aviation. So you can see our partnerships are with the big players in a big industry, with great opportunities for the future.

Thanks for joining us.

JULIA GILLARD:

Thank you, happy to take any questions.

QUESTION:

[inaudible] How does a 'lead school' work? Do they all…do schools in that area cluster and go to one particular school that's been set up?

JULIA GILLARD:

There are going to be different models around the country and what the Government said is we want every secondary school to benefit. We've budgeted it so every secondary school can benefit, so they can make applications for grants from $500 000 to $1.5 million. But what schools are choosing to do is to come together in a group to have a facility that services students across the group.

This school is a very unique one because its linkages are actually with schools right across the state of Queensland. In other areas, the school clusters are very local school clusters—so people in the immediate vicinity all working together.

But we are very open to that model and we understand that for schools who want to work together, it can be the best way of maximising resources, maximising teaching time, maximising industry partnerships, and ensuring that key objective of real training for real jobs.

QUESTION:

On the $2.5 billion, you expected to touch every secondary school, state secondary school in the country, by 2030 or [inaudible]?

JULIA GILLARD:

Our program is $2.5 billion program over ten years for every secondary school in the country, whether they are state, independent or Catholic secondary schools. We've budgeted it on the basis that we're there able to assist schools with applications from $500 000 to $1.5 million.

It's a substantial investment from the Federal Government, it's a major investment. Its part of the major setting of measures we're taking to deliver our major Education Revolution, but we believe it's important that more Australian secondary students come out of high school with a qualification. Now that can be a qualification that takes them onto university, but importantly too, it can be a trades qualification in a traditional trade or an emerging industry, which means they've got the skills they need for a real job.

QUESTION:

If we're talking about promises, what about the computer…the promise of one computer for every student from Years 9 to 12? Are you backing away from that?

JULIA GILLARD:

The Government is continuing to rollout our Digital Education Revolution. Of course, when we put phase one out there of the Digital Education Revolution, and asked schools in the most need to apply for computers. Of the schools we asked, 95 per cent applied. I think that shows the degree of enthusiasm that there is amongst secondary schools for this program. We're now opening round two and inviting schools to apply. Some 1900 schools have been invited to apply and our program will continue to our $1.2 billion investment.

What's it all about? It's about making sure that our secondary students in Years 9 to 12 can access the technology of the 21st century. They can get access to a computer when they need it for a learning experience. The students of today are going to be working in a world where computer technology is everywhere. We want them learning with the tools of the 21st century. We also want them benefiting from the kind of Trades Training Programs that we've talked about here at Aviation High, and through our Trades Training Centre Program generally.

QUESTION:

When you say access to computers [inaudible] though, that's a very different proposition to actually 'one computer to every child'.

JULIA GILLARD:

Well, we're talking about an effective one-to-one ratio. We're talking about students having those computers when they need them. Obviously, there are some activities at school when you don't need a computer—when you're doing physical education, for example. What we want to make sure is we want to make sure when students need computers, they are there.

And let's remind ourselves what has been happening in Australian schools, we identified secondary schools for the first round that had a ratio of worse than one to eight. That is, one computer to eight students or more—talking about computers that are four years old or less, and we know the computers age rapidly because the technology changes so quickly.

So we've had students in our secondary schools that really had no hope of getting a turn on a computer. We're delivering a Digital Education Revolution which will change that. When they need a computer, it will be there. It is a $1.2 billion investment.

QUESTION:

What the…the campaign commitment wasn't to give them access to a computer; it was for every child to have a computer.

JULIA GILLARD:

The campaign commitment was to make sure that students could have access to computers when they needed them. Obviously we said that secondary schools would be able to work out how they wanted to rollout that technology. And different secondary schools have made different choices. Some have gone down the laptop route, some have gone down the route of having fixed computers on desks in computer laboratories, some have chosen to adopt thin clients—the very small keypads that relate to a central hard drive. We haven't told schools how to achieve this task, but we've made clear the goal, and the goal is to make sure our secondary schools are learning with the tools of the 21st century.

QUESTION:

Have you come to a firm agreement about who's responsible for the associating costs of the project?

JULIA GILLARD:

We've had a continuing discussion with the states and territories about facilitating the Digital Education Revolution. We're working in partnership, obviously on the Trades Training Centres, and you're seeing that partnership, that very strong partnership, in evidence today. We're working in partnership on the delivery of the national curriculum. We're working in partnership for a new schools agreement at the end of this year, including new investments in teacher quality and disadvantaged schools. So we're working strongly together because we, with our state and territory colleagues, believe that every Australian student should have the best quality education they can. We want every Australian student to have a world-class education, and if we're going to deliver that Education Revolution, it needs to be done by working together.

QUESTION:

Are you concerned though, that more schools might turn around and say, 'We can't afford to run the computers'?

JULIA GILLARD:

Well, the evidence is in from the first round of our computers in schools program, and that evidence is very clear—of the schools we invited to apply, the schools most in need—95 per cent applied. So you would say that there was enthusiasm amongst schools for applying because 95 per cent did.

QUESTION:

What's that saying about Queensland then? We only got 6 per cent of round one funding.

JULIA GILLARD:

What it's saying is we deliberately targeted in the first round the schools most in need. That is…

QUESTION:

So Queensland schools aren't in need?

ROY WELFORD:

What that means is that Queensland is ahead of every other state…

[Audience laughs]

TREASURER:

Exactly, a lot further ahead.

ROY WELFORD:

…in installing computers in schools.

JULIA GILLARD:

Rod makes the Queensland point and that's exactly what you would expect him to make. What we said with our Computers in Schools Program, is it's a $1.2 billion program. The money will be distributed equitably between states and school sectors. So everybody will benefit from the program. Queensland will get its fair share. But what we asked of our state and territory colleagues of the Catholic and independent school sectors, is for round one to let us assist those schools most in need.

And as Rod says, and he's rightly proud of it, those schools most in need did not tend to be in Queensland. But through the program, overall, Queensland will get its fair share.

QUESTION:

Just looking at the [inaudible] students will have their own computers?

JULIA GILLARD:

Well, students at school will be able to have a computer when they need it. We have always said and we said in the policy document you would be referring to, that we weren't going to mandate the way that secondary schools are rolled out this technology. We were going to allow them to make choices between laptops, between hard desk-based computers, between thin clients, between other technologies as it becomes available. But we want to make sure is there an effective one to one ratio. If you, as a student, needed a computer, it was there for you to use. You were the person using that computer, it was available to you.

Of course, in addition to the $1.2 billion investment in our Digital Education Revolution, in the last Budget we created the new Education Tax Rebate to assist families with also facilitating access to computer technology at home—so a new tax benefit to help people do things, like buy laptops and Internet access for their students to learn with.

QUESTION:

Mr Swan, can I ask you a question about interest rates? What are your thoughts on the latest round of independent advisors [inaudible]

TREASURER:

Well, firstly I think we have to acknowledge there is very substantial pressure on borrowing costs, which are flowing from the international financial market turbulence. That's occurring, that is due to global factors, and is certainly is putting upward pressure on rates, irrespective of any decisions that will be taken by the Reserve Bank.

But what I've said on many occasions is the banks need to take heed of the fact that people are bearing the burden of eight official interest rate rises in a row and many people out there are doing it really tough. And I think those customers out there that are doing it tough will reward those banks that best look after their customers. These are commercial decisions which are taken by the banks, but the banks need to be very wary in moving their rates outside the official cycle of the impact of that on their customers.

QUESTION:

Do you think [inaudible]?

TREASURER:

Well, that's entirely a matter for them. But what I would say to them, is they do need to exercise some restraint, and what I've said to customers is, 'vote with their feet', which is why we are working very hard on putting in place a bank switching package so that customers who are unhappy with their bank can more readily shift their account, and hopefully that will be in place by November. But we also have to acknowledge there are big global factors impacting here as well, beyond the control of the domestic economy, flowing from the fallout in terms of the international market turbulence that we're all witnessing in the United States and around the world.

QUESTION:

Mr Swan, are you aware of the advice from the Treasury, especially the concern about the Commonwealth, of the Government's technology to recapturing and destroying carbon?

TREASURER:

Look, can I just say that the Rudd Government is a very strong supporter of carbon capture and storage. We have been for a long time, when we were in opposition and when we are in Government. I have received no advice from the Treasury which would urge me not to go down the road of the development of carbon capture and storage.

The Government has a Clean Coal Fund out there. We are very supportive of the innovation that is going on—the research and development—and we are keen to back that research and development to further advance cleaner coal technology. But there has been no advice from the Treasury to the Government discouraging us from exploring the further development of clean-coal technology—none at all.

QUESTION:

Did you ever consider any other system besides the carbon emissions trading system?

TREASURER:

Well, we've settled on an emissions trading system as the best and least cost method of putting a price signal into the economy, so that we can encourage the development of alternative technologies, which will reduce emissions for the long term.

The emissions trading system that we are developing will be compatible with other systems elsewhere in the world and that is also very important. That's why the previous government decided to go down the road of an emission trading system and that's why this Government is going down the road of an emissions trading system, and it's why we are publishing tomorrow our Green Paper. That Green Paper will canvass a number of options and directions, and when that's out tomorrow, I'll be in a position to answer more detailed questions on that.

QUESTION:

Have you got any advice from the Treasury not to do it? Did you get advice from the group?

TREASURER:

The Treasury has not provided any advice that is suggested in the media reports in The Daily Telegraph today. The Government is a strong supporter of carbon capture and storage. We are a big coal-producing country and a very big coal exporter. Coal is absolutely essential to the health of the world economy, the national economy and regional economies, particularly in this state.

We understand if we are to substantially reduce carbon emissions into the future to achieve our objectives compatible with our Kyoto objectives, then there must be substantial progress made in making our coal cleaner, and that's why we are strong supporters of carbon capture and storage, have been for a long time, remain strong supporters of it. And the suggestions in the papers down south today, that somehow the Government is not supportive, or the Treasury isn't supportive of the development of such technology, are plain wrong.

QUESTION:

Ms Gillard, can I ask you a question about the Black Hawk inquest. What do you think about the fact that it has been announced [inaudible]?

JULIA GILLARD:

Obviously, the report is being made public today. It's not my intention to comment on it. Obviously it will be commented on by the Minister for Defence, Joel Fitzgibbon.

QUESTION:

Just one other quick question, Ms Gillard. Can you envisage any circumstances in which nuclear [inaudible] Australia?

JULIA GILLARD:

No, I can't.

QUESTION:

[inaudible] …why continue involving with global nuclear partnership?

JULIA GILLARD:

Look, the Government made its policy settings about these matters very clear before the last election. We're envisaging a future for this country which is about making sure we're dealing with the challenges of climate change, the future for this country where we're investing in clean coal and in renewable sources of energy.

Thank you.