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The Hon Brendan O'Connor MP

Minister for Skills and Training
Address to the National Press Club of Australia
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Wednesday, 14 August 2024

Arrival 11:30am, Lunch served 12pm, Address commences 12:30pm, Concludes 1:30pm

The National Press Club of Australia

 The Hon Brendan O'Connor MP, Minister for Skills and Training will Address the National Press Club of Australia.

The Hon Brendan O'Connor MP is the Minister for Skills and Training.

Minister O’Connor was first elected to the Australian Parliament in 2001 as a representative of the Australian Labor Party and has been a Minister in successive Labor Governments.

Since becoming Minister for Skills and Training in June 2022, Minister O’Connor has led national reform of the vocational education and training (VET) sector to respond to critical skill shortage areas, improve the quality and relevance of training, and improve accessibility, diversity, and gender equality for students.

Minister O’Connor has established Jobs and Skills Australia, a tripartite expert body that is improving our capacity to plan the workforce needs of the future; established ten Jobs and Skills Councils to ensure government decisions are informed by real economy insight; jointly funded 355,000 Fee-Free TAFE and VET places with States and Territories, removing financial barriers to high quality education and training in areas of skills needs, with funding for an additional 320,000 places over the next three years; and delivered a landmark five-year National Skills Agreement with States and Territories, unlocking up to $30 billion in significant new strategic investment in the VET sector.

The National Skills Agreement was developed under principles agreed by National Cabinet and embeds cooperation and unity between the Commonwealth and all States and Territories. In an historic first, the new National Stewardship model will coordinate strategic investment in skills across the economy and support the delivery of skills needed in national priority areas, as well as providing States and Territories with flexibility to meet local industry skills needs.

The Minister is fundamentally reforming foundation skills programs to increase access to training for Australians lacking literacy, numeracy, and digital skills, and improving support services for apprentices to improve completion rates.

As Minister for Employment Participation in a previous Labor Government, Minister O’Connor reformed the employment services system to provide additional support for disadvantaged jobseekers and introduced an individualised service called Job Services Australia.

As Minister for Home Affairs, he reformed Australia’s anti-dumping regime to encourage fairer and more equitable business practices, introduced freedom of information law reform, and secured passage of Commonwealth working with children legislation. The Minister also strengthened laws and regional cooperation to combat transnational criminal conduct.

Minister O’Connor has also served as Minister for Small Business, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and Minister for Human Services.

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