Page 1775 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 4 May 2005

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convey to me, through departmental officers and people who have a disability, that they were thoroughly pleased with what was in the budget because, like everybody else, they felt that there might have been a bit of pain in it and there was not.

Mrs Burke threshes around the place, trying to find some way to suggest that this government is not supporting people with a disability. I am sorry she has got it wrong again.

MRS BURKE: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Minister, when will your government restore this taxi fare subsidy to people with a disability?

MR HARGREAVES: Unlike those opposite, we do not regard the services to people with a disability in little pieces—like jigsaw pieces—and address those. We look at them holistically. It is about quality of life for these people, and the quality of life of these people is far more important to us than one little element. I have to say that the Stanhope government’s record of addressing the quality of life for people with a disability makes those people opposite look shameful.

Vocational education and training

MS PORTER: My question is to the Minister for Education and Training. Could the minister inform the Assembly of the Stanhope Labor government’s recent actions to address the skills shortage in the ACT?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank the member for Ginninderra for her question. The ACT Labor government has invested heavily in addressing the skills shortage in the ACT throughout our entire term in office. Through the budget presented yesterday and the previous budget, we have committed a total of $14.1 million in extra funding to address skills shortages in the ACT. Total funding to address skills shortages now stands at around $80 million per annum. This is great news for the Canberra economy, for business and construction and particularly for young Canberrans and those seeking to update their skills or find a new trade.

In the ACT we saw a 16 per cent growth in traditional trade commencements over the nine months to September 2004 and a 22 per cent growth in the numbers of traditional apprentices in training. We continue to work to meet the pressures being experienced in the areas of skills shortage in the ACT job markets, across a number of industries. We have seen a 48 per cent growth in commencements in the automotive and transport industries, a 46 per cent growth in apprentices in building and construction, a 70 per cent growth in community services and health, a 44 per cent growth in finance, banking and insurance, and a 101 per cent growth in tourism and hospitality.

All of these areas are identified as areas of skills shortage. The ACT government has strongly responded to the skills pressure in the ACT economy and delivered excellent training alternatives to young people, as well as a higher profile for training in our school communities. We have experienced a huge peak in training commencements linked in part to a strong economy, coupled with the need for skilled tradespeople to rebuild after the bushfire. The growth in building and construction is now at record levels. The latest statistics from the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research indicate the

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