Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (14:58): My question is to the Minister for Industry and Skills. Can the minister update the house on what action the state government is taking to increase employment, skills training and economic growth in regional South Australia?
The Hon. D.G. PISONI (Unley—Minister for Industry and Skills) (14:59): I have to say that I had a terrific week last week touring the regions. We know how important the regions are to South Australia. They contribute $25 billion to the state’s economy, and 50 per cent of our merchandise exports come from the regions but they only have one-third of the state’s population—an extremely good result for South Australia. Of course, those opposite didn’t even recognise that the regions were there when they were in office.
The Hon. J.A.W. Gardner: They weren’t very good.
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: No, they weren’t very good at supporting the regions, and I got that loud and clear when I visited the regions last week. On Sunday, I visited Port Lincoln, and I thank the member for Flinders for setting up the appointments I had with Regional Development Australia and with the Port Lincoln Chamber of Commerce on Sunday. We got started early. I was so keen to get out there, I went out on Sunday—
Mr Duluk: After church.
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: —after church, yes, thank you, member for Waite. And then on Monday I was off to Whyalla, and I was fortunate to speak with industry and business leaders at two functions that were held at the Foreshore Motor Inn, as well as visiting OneSteel, Ottoway Fabrication, Whyalla Aged Care, BIS Industries, Career Employment, and I even popped into the TAFE campus. There is a great level of optimism in Whyalla—
The SPEAKER: Order!
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: —about the policies—
The SPEAKER: Order! The minister will be heard in silence.
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: —and the enthusiasm that the new government has for regional South Australia and the policies that the new government has for business in general. I was really pleased to hear that OneSteel is aiming to double its production, and it won’t need to invest one more cent into infrastructure in order to do that: it will be pure profit that will come into South Australia with the work that it does, and that will be exported, but it needs skills.
In Port Augusta, it was terrific to speak to industry about the opportunities in Upper Spencer Gulf. I met with Regional Development Australia Far North, the Bungala Aboriginal Corporation, Enel Green Power, Access Training Centre, Pacific National—and I was even promised a train ride on my next visit—and Sundrop Farms.
On Thursday, I flew to Kangaroo Island. It was great that I had a tour of the new Kangaroo Island airport, and I note that the Premier and the Prime Minister were there yesterday opening that. I met with the council. I spoke with many industry and community leaders, and I visited the Rabbit Warren Bakery, which is now for the first time considering employing an apprentice after hearing about the incentives and the program and the commitment this government has to training young people. They know how important it is to give opportunities to young people on the island.
I visited Mount Gambier on Friday. It was terrific to catch up with the member for Mount Gambier when I was down there—
The Hon. T.J. Whetstone interjecting:
The SPEAKER: The Minister for Primary Industries is warned.
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: —and, of course, it is important to recognise that these industries are very, very enthusiastic about taking on trainees and apprentices under the government’s new plan.