China International Education and Cultural Ties

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: My question is directed to the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment. Will the minister update the council on how the government is deepening the international education and cultural ties between South Australia and China?

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment) (14:27): I thank the honourable member for his ongoing interest in deepening the education and cultural ties between South Australia and China. As members will recall, last week I updated the council that I travelled to China recently to support 26 South Australian business delegates. Part of that trip was to visit Jinan, the capital city of the Shandong province.

I was fortunate enough to visit Jinan for the second time this year. It is 32 years and counting—that is how long we have had a sister-state relationship with Shandong. The government-to-government relationship is fundamental to businesses wanting to enter China. South Australia and Shandong share ties in food and wine, health, education, culture, sports and tourism. Specifically, I want to talk about the good work being done by the international education sector in China. It is a vital sector to our economy. There were some 15,000 Chinese students studying in Adelaide in 2017 and hundreds of them have come from Shandong.

While in Jinan, I gave a number of speeches in support of our education providers. I think the record was on the Wednesday—and members opposite would probably be bored with it—when I had to deliver eight speeches that day on all slightly different topics and all with an interpreter, which obviously meant that they were relatively short speeches for me but it took a while to get through them.

I attended the Shandong South Australia Vocational Education and Training Forum, and supported TAFE SA as they deepened their relationship with the Shandong College of Tourism and Hospitality and the Shandong Polytechnic. I also attended the Joint Laboratories Symposium, where I witnessed presentations on the good work already being done collaboratively in joint laboratories between our three universities and the Shandong Academy of Sciences in areas like soil health, medical devices, digital health, advance lasers and sensors, special fibre and oil and gas detection.

We also unveiled at that time an agreement, signing with Madam Ren Ai Rong, the Vice Governor of Shandong, and university representatives. These have been in the pipeline for a while, but I witnessed the signing of the agreements that would see key initiatives get underway, like jointly supervised PhD research programs.

I also had the delight of witnessing the presentations from the five finalists from the Shandong inaugural StudyAdelaide English competition for Chinese middle and high school students. The winners will get to travel to South Australia as StudyAdelaide ambassadors in early 2019. It was great to see the finalists' ambitions and their strong desire to see what beauty Adelaide and South Australia have to offer to the world.

With international education being our largest service export, we see the sector as being crucial to our prospects of increasing exports, increasing jobs at home and creating innovative opportunities for the future. International students who come to South Australia spend more money here, and they get their families to come and visit and obviously enjoy our wonderful hospitality. They create thousands of jobs for our state and sometimes they even become investors of the future, as I mentioned recently with Mr Nicho Teng and his announcement that he will be building a Westin hotel in the GPO.

They collaborate with our best and brightest often on common challenges for the mutual benefit of our countries and the world. That is why the Marshall Liberal government has committed to supporting the vitality of our world-class international education sector.