After months of chaos and turmoil in the VET sector, reports today that the Turnbull Liberal Government has developed a secret plan to take over vocational education will send chills down the spine of many students, teachers and stakeholders in the sector.
The report by Fairfax media exposes the secret details of a plan by the Federal Government to take over the vocational education and training sector.
Labor is gravely concerned that the Turnbull Liberal Government is considering another rushed, knee-jerk thought-bubble policy to try and hide the fact that the sector has been in crisis under their watch with VET FEE-HELP loans escalating from $699 million in 2014 to $1.7 billion following their inability to stop shonks and sharks targeting vulnerable students in the training sector.
There are a number of questions that need to be answered:
1. will the Commonwealth be funding the almost $4 billion of funding currently provided by the States and Territories?
2. are the Liberals going to shift training costs on to students?
3. will the Liberal Government absolutely guarantee that TAFE will remain the significant public provider of vocational education?
4. How will they guarantee disadvantaged students will retain access to good quality training no matter where they live?
The Liberals have an appalling track record in the vocational education sector so far. Their response to rip offs and rorts was too little, too late and then they implemented knee jerk, ill-considered actions that have resulted in more crisis in the sector.
Since their election the Abbott/Turnbull Government has cut $2 billion from skills programs and apprentice support and are yet to make any statement in support of TAFE as the public provider.
Labor is worried that any proposal by the Liberals at this point will provide further opportunities for cuts and cost shifting the debt burden on to students.
Even Malcolm Turnbull’s state colleagues have slammed the Abbott/Turnbull Government’s handling of the sector:
“[they] have made errors that I would not have ever believed from a government" in allowing the private vocational education sector to blow out to an expected $4 billion in public debt thi year.
NSW Minister for Skills and Industry, John Barilaro, Sydney Morning Herald, 3/2/2016
“TAFE would struggle if the federal government obtained jurisdiction over vocational education and implemented a fully competitive market.
At the moment we are protecting TAFE in this state with the policy setting and the subsidies to keep TAFE competitive”
NSW Skills Minister, John Barilaro, The Australian, 1/10/2015
“The issue of VET - which is no state secret, as members opposite would suggest - was also included in that communiqué and was a matter for some discussion at COAG. As the minister said last week and as I say now, we do not support a national takeover of that system.”
Hon Will Hodgman, Premier of Tasmania, Hansard, 22 September 2015
“We do not support a Federal takeover of our VET or TasTAFE in Tasmania.
Hon Jeremy Rockliff, Tasmanian Minister for Education and Training,
Hansard, 16 September 2015
Malcolm Turnbull needs to come clean and outline his secret plans for the VET sector.
If your own mates don’t even trust you, why should the students, teachers and working class families who rely on TAFE trust you?
WEDNESDAY, 3 FEBRUARY 2016