Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (14:32): My question is to the Minister for Energy and Mining. Can the minister update the house on the Marshall Liberal government’s program for delivering growth in the mining industry through the Playford Trust scholarship for mining and petroleum engineers?
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart—Minister for Energy and Mining) (14:33): Thank you to the member for Flinders for his question. This is actually very important. We have heard from the Minister for Innovation and Skills about the great work that he and institutions and industry are doing together with regard to skilling South Australians. We also know how critically important the mining and petroleum industries are for South Australia for jobs, for regional development, for the provision of necessary resources and for our economy as a whole through exports. In fact, a third of our state’s exports comes from the resources sector, so it is terribly important and we are determined to grow that.
One of the ways we are going to grow that is through training people to participate in leadership of that industry into the future. I was approached by the Playford Trust, which is a tremendous organisation that seeks support from government, institutions and others for the provision of scholarships to people. It has certainly been unfortunate to see over the last several years that enrolments in our South Australian universities in petroleum engineering, mineral engineering, geology and other things like that have been on the decline. We are determined to change that.
With the help of the Playford Trust and with the help of industry we are contributing to a new set of scholarships for these tertiary studies, studies related to the resources industry. Our government has contributed $1.2 million, and industry has committed $880,000 plus some working opportunities as well, so that we now have $2.1 million to provide scholarships to 100 students over six years, scholarships that on average will be $20,000 per student. It is an outstanding opportunity for young South Australians to develop their careers after undertaking tertiary studies in these very important areas of learning here in South Australia.
We want South Australians to study in South Australia and work in the resources industry in South Australia so that they benefit, our community benefits, tertiary institutions benefit and, very importantly, our resources sector benefits. Our resources sector is so important, whether it be petroleum in the Cooper Basin or the South-East or whether it be minerals in the Gawler Craton or other places. This work that we are doing is in addition to the Accelerated Discovery Initiative, the program of $10 million over three years to support new, innovative and productive exploration for minerals in our state, partnering also with industry, small companies and big companies. We are determined to make sure that the resources sector in our state grows and grows.
This is not just about the traditional concept of mining with big equipment digging big holes or big tunnels and getting big lumps of ore out of the ground. While that work has been incredibly important for South Australia for nearly 150 years now—and it will continue with a highly skilled workforce and more technology and better equipment—mining is also about new minerals, critical minerals. In fact, I had a discussion with somebody from the US Department of State not too long ago who was saying, ‘We are looking at Australia. We want to release ourselves from the dependence we have on some other countries for the supply of these critical minerals. We want to partner with Australia for these critical minerals, which are so important for new technology and a cleaner world.’
The resources sector has an enormous amount to offer in the continuation of more traditional markets and in participating in very new and exciting ones.