Minister Shows It's Never Too Late To Learn on VET Policy


Labor today welcomed the Abbott Government’s backflip on implementing tougher consumer protection measures to protect vulnerable people from being exploited by unscrupulous training providers and misusing VET FEE-HELP.


“There has been an explosion in media articles and stories about vulnerable people being exploited by these shonky providers over the past twelve months,” Sharon Bird said.


“Just last week in the House of Representatives, Labor called on the Government to act with more urgency to ensure the protection of students is prioritised, to support tougher measures including an investigation by the Auditor General into the misuse of VET FEE-HELP and the introduction of an education campaign by the ACCC.


“I am very pleased that the Government has finally heeded our advice and decided to help protect vulnerable people.


In the 2014-15 Budget the Government estimated that 172,300 VET FEE-HELP places were needed, however, in the Department of Education Additional Estimates Statement this year, the figure was revised to 225,500.


“In 2013, $709 million was spent on VET FEE-HELP.  This figure has now exploded to $1.6 billion last year.  The Grattan institute recently warned that 40 per cent of these loans would never be recovered. 


“Labor has been warning about shonky operators for almost 18 months now.  We have been calling for an investigation by the Auditor General, we have asked for an education campaign by the ACCC, we have spoken to the Minister and the Department about ensuring that students are properly advised of the debt that they will be incurring and census dates – all of these suggestions were ignored.  Instead the Abbott Government focussed their time on slashing $2 billion from the skills portfolio.


“I am very pleased that Minister Birmingham has finally come on board and realised that this is a serious issue with vulnerable people being ripped off and shonky operators making huge profits at the taxpayer’s expense. 


“Labor will be happy to support good measures that provide protection for vulnerable people and we look forward to receiving the detail of these new measures.”