Senate debates

Thursday, 14 May 2020


Student Identifiers Amendment (Enhanced Student Permissions) Bill 2019; Second Reading

12:50 pm

Photo of Don FarrellDon Farrell (SA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Special Minister of State) Share this | | Hansard source

The opposition supports the Health Insurance Amendment (General Practitioners and Quality Assurance) Bill 2020 and commends the bill to the Senate.

Photo of Linda ReynoldsLinda Reynolds (WA, Liberal Party, Minister for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to sum up on the bill and I thank all members for their contributions to this debate. The Student Identifiers Amendment (Enhanced Student Permissions) Bill 2019 will broaden student controlled access to a range of entities, allowing them to request access to a student's authenticated vocational education and training transcript. This change will provide confidence to industry on the authenticity of vocational education and training qualifications. It also supports the Australian government's commitment to strengthening our VET system to become a modern, flexible and trusted sector that provides an excellent standard of education and training.

The bill introduces a civil penalty regime to protect the integrity of the student identifiers initiative and to act as a deterrent to unwanted behaviour in this sector. It also clarifies that the Student Identifiers Registrar has the power to determine by exemption whether a vocational education and training qualification or statement of attainment can be issued by a registered training organisation to a student who does not have a student identifier. Lastly, it also clarifies spending powers associated with the student identifiers special account. An addendum to the expenditure memorandum for the bill has been tabled. It responds to concerns raised by the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills. The committee requested that the key information provided in the response to the committee be included in the explanatory memorandum to the bill. I confirm this action has been undertaken. I commend this bill to the Senate.

12:52 pm

Photo of Don FarrellDon Farrell (SA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Special Minister of State) Share this | | Hansard source

I seek leave to make a short—

Photo of David FawcettDavid Fawcett (SA, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The minister has formally closed, but I'm conscious that the order this bill was brought on is not in accordance with the order that was listed. Are you seeking leave to make the contribution you would have otherwise made?

Photo of Don FarrellDon Farrell (SA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Special Minister of State) Share this | | Hansard source

Yes, I am.

Leave granted.

Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. I thank the government for allowing me to make a contribution. Labor will support this bill in the Senate. It provides the ability for employers and licensing bodies to verify applicants' qualifications and deters people from fraudulently altering their VET transcripts. But making it easier for employers to check people's qualifications doesn't fix the fact that this government has presided over the failure of the vocational education and training sector and a national skills crisis that is making it harder for employers to fill job vacancies while at the same time the country is in an underemployment crisis.

Labor referred this bill to inquiry by the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee to make sure that there were no unintended consequences that make it harder for workers to make a fresh start. It's important not to strip away people's ability to make a fresh start in life. Labor wanted to make sure that students aren't placed at an unreasonable disadvantage when they're applying for jobs, that their privacy is protected and that they can properly control the data they share with potential employers. We are satisfied that if someone flunked out of a training course when they were young because they were caring for a family member or dealing with mental health issues, and they've successfully gone back and completed a diploma some years later, they will be able to control how much of their VET transcript they share with prospective employers, being only the qualifications that are relevant to the job.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.