Last night in Senate estimates there was more controversy surrounding the Turnbull Government’s decision to rip funding for the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) from TAFE and give to a private provider.

The Liberals recently announced that they would cut funding TAFE Illawarra for the AMEP and instead awarded contracts to private training provider Navitas who, it was later revealed, had sub-contracted to MAX Solutions.

In Senate Estimates last night there was great confusion as to whether the American-owned private corporation, MAX Solutions, was actually compliant.

In questioning the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) this morning Senator Doug Cameron asked if ASQA had conducted audits on MAX Solutions.  The Department responded:

“[MAX]…were recently audited by us in relation to a changing scope and the provider was found non-compliant after rectification.”
Mark Paterson, ASQA

Later when questioning the Department about whether the Department would allow the contract with MAX to proceed the Department advised that they would need to take that question “on notice”.

Sharon Bird said the Turnbull Government needs to come clean as to just what is going on.

“This is getting more concerning as the start date for the new delivery gets closer.  The Department tonight had to take on notice many important questions on this contract:

  • how many hours of online learning would be permitted;
  • if there would still be the same number of delivery locations;
  • the value of the contract for Navitas and MAX Solutions and the price difference from TAFE;
  • how many students would be required to change provider in the middle of their course due to these changes;
  • whether the Department required tenderers to sign contracts and work orders without knowing budgets;
  • whether premises had been secured;
  • on what basis the decision was made to not award the contract to our well respected, local TAFE.

“The Government have ripped this contract from TAFE with no consideration of the effect that their decision will have on students, teachers and our local TAFE provider.

“They can’t even answer basic questions as to whether MAX Solutions is compliant and, if not, whether they will be able to continue to provide the training.

“This decision has been an absolute debacle and I call on Malcolm Turnbull and Simon Birmingham to stop playing with people’s lives and answer the questions from Senator Cameron urgently.