Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 07, 2024


Regional Workforce Planning

The Hon. J.S. LEE (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:48): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development about regional workforce planning.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.S. LEE: On 11 December 2023, a media release by the Regional Australia Institute stated that the Cross-Border Future Industry Workforce Forum was held in Euston, in south-western New South Wales, to discuss regional development for the Murray Mallee region in 14 local government areas spanning across South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. The region is on the cusp of significant large-scale new and expanded projects across the critical minerals, renewable energy and irrigated horticultural industries. An outcome of the forum was the creation of a new locally led task force to drive building a workforce in the region. My questions to the minister are:

1. What representation has the minister made to the Cross-Border Future Industry Workforce Forum since the Murray Mallee region in the 14 local government areas actually included South Australia?

2. Can the minister please outline what participation has taken place with the new Murray Mallee cross-border future task force to tackle South Australian regional workforce shortages?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:50): I thank the honourable member for her question. The Regional Australia Institute does a lot of fine work across the country in regard to a number of issues that affect regional communities. In terms of regional workforce, there are a number of activities and actions that are taking place, which I have referred to previously in this place. Members would be aware that regional workforce issues are common across the country. For example, when we are talking about healthcare workers, every regional town in South Australia is competing with almost every regional town across the country to attract those workers.

We know that there are some changes that will occur in regional workforce demands—for example, around automation or other innovations—but we also know that, because of the huge pipeline of work that will be coming to South Australia because of the forward-thinking policies of the Malinauskas Labor government, there will be an increased demand for labour and skilled labour in all sorts of industries. So we continue to work with many organisations that have an interest, particularly, for example, our RDAs and other across-government departments, to address this issue, which is a significant issue and one that is incredibly important to the future of South Australia.