Construction Industry Training Fund (Board) Amendment Bill

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (11:58): I rise to support the Construction Industry Training Fund (Board) Amendment Bill. I come in after that very worthwhile contribution from the member for Heysen. The amendments to this act provide greater flexibility and discretion relevant to board appointments. These reforms are important in ensuring that the board is more appropriately able to respond to changing industry, workforce and training requirements and that funds collected through the construction industry training levy are better managed and expended in line with industry demands.

Importantly, the reforms ensure that industry is better placed to capitalise on government initiatives, including our Marshall Liberal government's Skilling South Australia initiative, which will put nearly 21,000 trainees and apprentices out there into the workforce. What a worthwhile program that will be to get those generally young men and women trained up and into the workforce and to get those technical skills we need right throughout the construction industry—whether they be in the direct building trades, the plumbing trades, the electrical trades—those jobs that are so vital for the future prosperity of this state.

We will deliver those jobs. We saw the farcical situation with the former Labor government when they talked about developing 6,000 jobs from the Gillman development at the time. The only jobs that were developed there were for a room full of lawyers. There were supposed to be jobs in the petroleum and gas industries, and what happened? It all fell apart. We often heard the promise from Labor about the 100,000 jobs they were going to deliver. I think they got to 3,000 from that target because they were not the government to produce jobs. They just wanted to tax everyone to death, and that is why this place fell into a slumber for 16 years. We finally have a government that supports business and employers so that we can have those thousands of jobs throughout the community and the state.

The board appointment process under the current legislation is amongst the most prescriptive in the nation and has not been amended since the act's inception in 1993, despite recommendations in a 2004 independent review to modernise the appointment process and voting provisions. Currently, the minister is obligated to recommend to the Governor the nominations received from the prescribed employee associations, regardless of their experience in the building and construction sector, namely, the Australian Building and Construction Workers Federation; the Australian Workers' Union; the Communications, Electrical, Electronic, Energy, Information, Postal, Plumbing and Allied Services Union of Australia; and the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union.

I want to reflect on one of those unions, the Australian Workers' Union, which covers a range of industries and jobs. I have mentioned in this place before that during the nineties I went to work as a contractor on the Melbourne to Adelaide rail standardisation project. Even as a contractor, as someone wanting to make a few extra dollars off farm on that standardisation project—it was not far to go, working just north of Coonalpyn and down towards the other side of Keith—the only way I could have that job was to join the AWU. Those were the darkest three months of my life.

The Hon. Z.L. Bettison interjecting:

Mr PEDERICK: I have openly admitted before in this place that just to have a job—as we see in too many jobs, but we are diluting that process today—and get a little bit of money doing something else, I had to join the union. As I have had the interjection, it was really interesting how we progressed on that rail job. One day, I sat with one of the bosses while my rail unclipping machine was being repaired by the maintenance team. The foreman, or the overseer, was letting me have a look at the progress and what we were expected to do in a day, and we were only expected to do eight kilometres a day—

The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: On a point of order: my point is about relevance towards the bill.

Mr PEDERICK: It is to do with the construction industry.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: In the past, I have ruled that if members can relate the bill at least back to their own electorates, then I would accept their contribution. So perhaps, member for Hammond, you could do that at the very least.

Mr PEDERICK: Thank you, Deputy Speaker, and I am; this is definitely right in my electorate, right near my property. It did extend into the member for MacKillop's electorate as well. I would like to say that we were only expected to do eight kilometres a day but, because they had several people like me who did not mind a day's hard work, we were doing 16. So we were doing double the specified amount—we were happy to do so and it was not difficult to do so.

The point I am making is the comparison between that and this legislation is the fact that we are setting the record straight. This is especially so when you have unions that do not have any relevance to the construction industry, so what is the point, apart from the fact that it has been prescribed by former governments that they should be able to be on the board? That is why the minister has put this bill forward—because the full intention of these amendments is to enable board members to be appointed based on their merit and experience in the sector.

These changes will bring the act into line with comparable legislation in other jurisdictions and certainly in regard to legislation governing the appointment of boards in the state's education and training sector. I note that the minister has had consultation with the Property Council of Australia South Australia, Master Builders South Australia and the Civil Contractors Federation South Australian branch on these amendments. He has also consulted with the chief executive officer of the Construction Industry Training Board.

The amendments in the bill include that all the appointments to the board will be made by the Governor on the nomination of the responsible minister and comprise persons who have the knowledge, skills and experience to enable the board to carry out its functions effectively. The presiding member will now be entitled to cast a vote, including a casting vote, in board proceedings, and the board will comprise up to eight industry representatives, who are nominated by the minister following a public expression of interest process, as well as two independent members. The veto voting provisions will be removed to enable decisions of the board to reflect a majority position, not the majority position of prescribed sectional interests as is currently the case.

This is very important legislation for the house. It is very important for the state so that we get the right outcomes in the construction industry. I just want to note what great work all our people in the construction industry do. There are many organisations that support those in the construction industry as well. I attended the MATES in Construction lunch last week. It is a great fundraiser to assist those in the construction industry. Sadly, the construction industry has an extremely high rate of suicide; I think across the country it is around 190 year. In fact, you are far more likely to come across a suicide in the industry than a death on a building site.

I know that MATES in Construction are working hard to help curb that situation. It is a terrible figure when you think about it, so I fully support the work they do with their many tens of thousands of interactions, whether directly with the workplace, one on one, with their toolbox meetings or meetings on site with the construction industry. We need to support these workers in their valuable work—and it is valuable work. This morning, we saw the Premier turn the first sod on a new Sofitel five-star accommodation in Currie Street, with over $100 million of investment. That is more jobs from the private sector coming into this state.

I want to acknowledge the construction efforts that have been going on in my electorate recently: the Ingham's feed mill, which is about a $40 million construction just being commissioned at the moment; Big River Pork, with a $14 million expansion; and Costa Adelaide Mushrooms, with a $64 million expansion. Ingham's has put in and keeps putting in chicken sheds around Monarto or Kepa Road the other side of Murray Bridge, and at Yumali, not far from my home at Coomandook, there are also new layer sheds.

Certainly, in the wings and coming up next year is the construction of the new Bridgeport Hotel, which will be about a six-storey construction and will be very similar, I believe, to the new Port Lincoln Hotel. It will be something over $40 million to build that. There is so much going on around the place, not the least of which is the well over $100 million, and climbing, invested at The Bend Motorsport Park by Sam Shahin and Peregrine.

Members interjecting:

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The member for Hammond will be heard in silence. Continue, member.

Mr PEDERICK: Thank you for your protection, Mr Deputy Speaker. These interjections are outrageous. It is so good to see how much construction is going on. The Lucas Group is still out there earthmoving at The Bend, and that is providing such an impetus for so much other construction around the place, whether for industry, tourism or the tourism-related sector, just like the new Bridgeport development when it is built next year.

On top of that, we also have the Murray Bridge Racing Club development, with a commitment of tens of millions of dollars. It has taken a long time to come to fruition, with the first seeds sown in about 2003, and in the last couple of years they constructed the million-dollar horse stables. The track has been down for a long time and will be a real boon for horseracing, not just for Murray Bridge but for the racing community generally in this state because the man-made track on the inside of the turf track will allow races to proceed that normally get rained out, whether they be at Penola or Strathalbyn.

I guess that if an event is rained out in Adelaide there will be the opportunity for it to be moved to Murray Bridge. They are just constructing the new facilities now, including the main complex, which will have conference facilities that will hold up to 600 people. There will be great race day facilities for people who come to Murray Bridge. There are so many options that will be able to be opened up there in the future, including night-time events.

But it gets better in Hammond. We have a greyhound track that will be operating by the end of the year—that is about $7 million or $8 million—and it will be a real central point in regional South Australia for greyhound racing. From my understanding, pretty early on next year there will be a straight-line track of about 380 metres for straight-line greyhound races as well. There is a lot of money being spent, a lot of places being built and a lot of construction happening right throughout the electorate.

It is good to see those local jobs and to see what is going on, but we do need to get the enabling legislation around the edges right. That is why we are here today discussing the Construction Industry Training Fund (Board) Amendment Bill—so that we can have people elected on merit and not just because they are a member of a certain union with a certain ideology, but people who are involved in the industry, who are directly connected to the industry and who will make a great contribution.

We have to remember that this is about the training, as I indicated earlier, so that we get more skilled workers out there in the jobs, on the tools, doing great work in this state, building this state and making South Australia great again. I commend the bill to the house.