After two years of ignorance, blame-shifting and blustering, the Abbott/Turnbull Liberals are finally starting to talk to stakeholders about how to fix their mismanagement of the VET FEE-HELP system.
While the Liberals were busy with their infighting and deciding who should be PM, the VET FEE-HELP loans scheme escalated from $699 million in 2013 to $1.7 billion in 2014 and is expected to have blown out to over $3 billion in 2015.
Minister Scott Ryan this morning issued a press release saying consultations would commence today in Perth, with more to be held in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns.
Who will be in attendance remains a mystery, as the Minister’s release doesn’t give any details or provide links and as at 9am this morning, the release wasn’t even on the Minister’s website.
Even the Department’s own “VET FEE-HELP Reform” website doesn’t list any details for consultation sessions.
If the Minister is actually serious about fixing the gross mismanagement of VET FEE-HELP, he actually needs to let students, unions and other community representatives know how they can contribute to ending the Liberals’ VET crisis.
While the Minister is talking to secret stakeholders, Labor has put forward strong, sensible policies to fix the Liberals’ mess, but they have just been ignored, including:
A VET Ombudsman
A cap on course fees
A cap on VET FEE-HELP loans
A ban or restriction on the use of brokers
Ensuring loan applications for students would be handled by the Department of Education and Training rather than a private college or broker
Labor has also announced a full, evidence based review of the vocational education and training system and a National Priority Plan for TAFE including a TAFE guarantee which places it squarely as the public provider within the VET sector and ensures TAFE’s viability and strength into the future.
The Minister needs to get serious about fixing the Liberals’ mess and stopping taxpayer funds going to shonks and sharks. This won’t happen if secret consultation sessions are held behind closed doors.
The Minister must listen to students, parents, unions and other community representatives if they want to fix the mess that they have allowed to continue for two years.
MONDAY, 4 APRIL 2016