Mount Gambier Technical College

Thursday June 16, 2022

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (14:15): My question is to the Minister for Education. Can the minister provide an update on the technical college to be built in Mount Gambier?

The Hon. B.I. BOYER (Wright—Minister for Education, Training and Skills) (14:15): I thank the member for Mount Gambier for this very important question, and I of course thank him for his advocacy for his local community. I know that any members of this place who have spent some time in the South-East will know what a fantastic advocate he is for his community and that he is also a very wise source of advice around the priorities for that area and what this government needs to be doing.

On my first regional trip after being sworn in as the Minister for Education, Training and Skills, I ventured down to the South-East and started with a trip to Kingston, where I was happily joined by the member for MacKillop, who made a special trip from Adelaide that morning to join me at a meeting there with the Kingston District Council and local community members to discuss a very important issue that has been bubbling along there for many years around a lack of access to child care. I am hopeful that we will have a positive announcement together on that soon.

On my first trip to the South-East and Mount Gambier as minister, I spent some time with the member for Mount Gambier to talk to him about the very substantial election commitments that this Malinauskas Labor government has made in the Limestone Coast area and to get his thoughts on how best we deliver those and how best we roll those out. If the community forum that we held in Mount Gambier as part of country cabinet last week is anything to go by, I can tell you that the residents of the Limestone Coast are incredibly excited by the election commitments that this government has made. We were turning them away at the door. It was quite remarkable.

I spent some time on that trip not only talking to the member for Mount Gambier but also taking the time to speak to industry down there. I met with UniSA, TAFE SA, McDonnell and Sons, and OneFortyOne timber mills as well. I spoke to them about making sure, in respect of the technical college that we have committed to building in Mount Gambier, that not only does it provide a pathway for young people in the Limestone Coast area from years 10 to 12 to go through, finish their SACE, learn a trade and then go into the workforce, but also, very importantly, we need to make sure that we use this technical college to address the very acute skills shortages that we are currently experiencing all over the state and particularly in regional South Australia.

I was pleased to receive advice that I know the Premier received from the member for Mount Gambier as well as part of the discussions that we had with him about where we might best place this technical college. For those who know Mount Gambier, it is a regional city that has two large public high schools. The Malinauskas Labor government is very keen to make sure that this $35 million technical college, which will be there for the whole Limestone Coast area, is seen as a community asset that is owned by the entire community.

Our ambition is to make sure that we have young people in the year 10 to 12 years, not just from Mount Gambier but from the broader region, come and use this technical college. The advice that we received from the member for Mount Gambier—and I was pleased to receive complementary advice from local industry, TAFE SA and UniSA—was that we should build it and co-locate it with the TAFE campus already there in Mount Gambier. I should point out that we also have a commitment, which the Premier and I reaffirmed last week, that we are going to be upgrading the TAFE SA campus at Mount Gambier to the tune of $5 million.

I am pleased that we will be going ahead with the technical college for Mount Gambier. It will be co-located on the site where there is available land there now with TAFE SA and UniSA. It will create an education precinct. It will create opportunities for us to make sure we have all the supports around young people who not only might be coming to use that technical college but might be coming to use UniSA or TAFE SA, to make sure that they can and that we attract people from outside the Mount Gambier area and, more broadly, the Limestone Coast area to use what is going to be a fantastic community asset for the Mount Gambier and Limestone Coast area.