Thursday, 5 March 2015
National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Amendment Bill 2015; Second Reading
I would like to thank members who have contributed to this debate. The Australian government's focus on skills is working to restore trades and vocational education and training to their rightful place at the centre of our national economy. Ensuring Australian workers are highly skilled and job-ready is critical to national economic growth and productivity and a key plank of the government's industry innovation and competitiveness agenda.
The Australian government has embarked on significant VET reform, which has included widespread consultation. Our reforms are focused on ensuring vocational education and training is led by industry and employer needs. They are also focused on ensuring the national VET system delivers quality training that has the confidence of students, employers and the wider community. The National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Amendment Bill 2015 strengthens the regulation of registered training providers and third-party brokers in order to address quality concerns. The bill amends the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 and introduces measures to protect the integrity of the national training system to provide better balance in the regulation of the training system and to improve the efficiency and operation of the act and consequently the national regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority, known as ASQA.
In particular, extending the maximum period of registration for registered training providers from five to seven years will enable the ASQA to focus its compliance efforts on those doing the wrong thing rather than on registration or renewal audits, which providers expect and prepare for. The introduction of a quality standard-making power sends a clear signal to all in the training sector that, when required, the Commonwealth government will quickly take action against those who undermine the quality of training provided to students or abuse taxpayer funding. When exercising the standard-making power, the government will consult with key stakeholders, including employers and states and territories. This bill compliments the tough new RTO national standards the government has already introduced, which come into effect in less than a month. For example, the marketing provisions of this bill increase transparency requirements on training providers and third parties when advertising training courses to students. These provisions come on top of the changes in the standards which require RTOs to have written agreements with brokers and make RTOs responsible for broker behaviour on their behalf.
To help protect students and ensure they are fully informed about their training and the associated debt, ASQA is already working with consumer law agencies. Measures introduced in this bill, including broader information-sharing provisions, will further this consumer protection. I commend the bill to the House.
The original question was that this bill be now read a second time. To this, the honourable member for Cunningham has moved as an amendment that all words after 'That' be omitted with a view to substituting other words. The immediate question is that the amendment be agreed to.
Original question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.