Wednesday, 6 December 2017
Education and Employment References Committee; Reference
I seek leave to amend business of the Senate notice of motion No. 3, standing in the names of Senators Fawcett, Hanson-Young and Griff, proposing a reference to the Education and Employment References Committee, in the terms circulated in the chamber.
At the request of Senators Fawcett, Hanson-Young and Griff, I move the motion as amended:
That the following matter be referred to the Education and Employment References Committee for inquiry and report by 28 February 2018:
(b) the effective use by the South Australian Labor Government of $771 million provided over six years from the Federal Government to support vocational education and training in South Australia;
(c) the impact of the South Australian Government’s $91 million in funding cuts over five years on students, industry and the broader community;
(d) the role and impact of the scrapped Skills for All policy, and its replacement WorkReady policy;
(e) the impact and frequency of changes made by the South Australian Government to their Training Subsidy List;
(f) the adequacy of the oversight of TAFE SA by its leadership, board and the South Australian Government, as well as national regulatory oversight by the Australian Skills Quality Authority and other agencies; and
(g) any other relevant matters.
The South Australian Labor government's TAFE SA has twice been audited by government regulatory authorities in 2017. Both times there have been major issues identified with inappropriate training and noncompliance, overseen by TAFE SA. This has left students exposed and threatens the reputation of the vocational education and training sector in South Australia.
Labor opposes this proposition. This is an overt attack on the South Australian government. The government would know that the South Australian minister, Susan Close, has already announced that there will be an independent review of TAFE SA. It's no coincidence that Senator Fawcett wants a reporting date two weeks before the South Australian election. If the government really cared about a quality TAFE and VET system, they'd be responding to the abject failure of the competitive training market. They'd be investigating the for-profit education giants like Careers Australia, the company that pocketed $600 million in government-funded student loans and was graduating less than 20 per cent of their students—the same RTO that paid out $40 million to shareholders, and a year later put 1,000 staff out of work and left at least 15,000 students stranded.
The Australian Greens will be supporting this motion and this inquiry. What has happened in South Australia and in the TAFE system has been a total disgrace. Eight hundred students are now having to consider whether they start their courses all over again—because they didn't even have trained people training them! That is the disgrace and the scandal that has been unfolding in South Australia. The state Labor government cut $91 million from TAFE SA, and they wonder why on earth things have fallen over. It's a disgrace. This inquiry will do something to shed some light on it, but let me put on the record now: the Liberal Party, federally and across the country in state governments, also have a lot to answer for.
Question agreed to.