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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 2 Hansard (18 February) . .

Page.. 654..


chair of the committee, Ms Porter has been assiduous in her work on this inquiry and previous inquiries. It is regrettable that she is leaving before work on this particular subject has been concluded.

It is true that this inquiry has gone on far longer than perhaps it should have and what we expected it might. The inquiry was initiated in May 2013 and it might well have concluded a year or so ago. We were looking at the delivery of vocational education in the ACT and it was tracking well in examining national funding implications, VET fee help, regional and ACT plans and programs, and public and private RTOs.

The report might have been concluded some time last year. But then a number of submissions containing quite astounding allegations came to the committee from initially one, quite frankly, brave trainer with CIT, and then subsequently several other trainers and then still later industry representatives supporting the earlier claims. The inquiry hit a low point when, as almost a throwaway line, the former minister implied, while denying there was anything amiss at CIT, that the person who had first brought this to the committee's attention was someone we should not regard with any seriousness.

That particular witness had provided a great deal of material to the committee and had appeared before us to answer questions, yet stressed his motive was not to bring down CIT but to ensure CIT remained a credible provider of training for electrical apprentices. He told us that other trainers were being pressured to accept results and mark reports that were not correct and that he had been excluded because of his insistence that things had to be done correctly and to the standards set by ASQA.

But Ms Burch appeared to wave all that evidence aside and told the committee public hearing in April last year:

There are matters around Mr Dunstan that it is not quite appropriate for me or CIT to raise here with the committee that I think would be useful for the committee in confidence to be aware of.

Understandably, when the person named by Ms Burch read the transcript, he was angry and demanded that Ms Burch be asked to explain and if she could not, to apologise. Understandably, it also made me, if not other members, wonder where the truth lay. What did the minister know that we should be aware of?

I will not go through the whole sorry saga, but let me just say, like so many other issues with the former minister, there has never been any acceptable explanation of what she was trying to imply. We now know that ASQA has decided to audit CIT in relation to some of these matters. But because the ASQA audit is not yet available publicly, I do not believe we can be in any position to deliver a final report. So we have today this interim report. Like the curate's egg, it is good in parts but so much of what needs to be said is missing.

I would comment that it is very regrettable and naive, or arrogant, of the Chief Minister to put former education minister Ms Burch into such an incredible conflict of interest situation by nominating her to a position on the education committee, let


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