Page 3261 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 18 October 2022
for apprenticeships amounts only to $2.1 million for Skilled Capital and $15 million for User Choice, plus a further $460,000 revised from last year. It is difficult to see where the other new funding is that will help our economy to grow and recover from the COVID lockdowns.
What is concerning about this new spend is that it includes yet another increase in the overall budget for the Woden CIT campus, with another $31 million appropriated for this project. It is an important building, but the total project cost is now $325 million, up from the initial $240 million projected in the 2020-21 budget. I wonder how much more this project will cost before it is actually completed.
It would be good if the government provided greater transparency in all aspects of this project—projected costs over time, as well as completion dates, and report those on the project website and in their annual reports.
What was also demonstrated in the budget again is a lack of support by this government for the independent sector. The Labor-Greens government in the Tenth Assembly has made it clear that it will not support independent RTOs. This is very clear in the budget. It is not providing adequate funding or any support or promotion, or even acknowledging that they do a good job.
In the last annual report hearings, the minister was asked why so little funding went to the independent training sector. According to the recent Report on government services, almost 80 per cent of students in the VET sector attended private or independent RTOs, yet this sector received less than 20 per cent of funding.
When this number was queried, the minister stated that they supported the CIT as the premier government institution and were confident about the quality of training that they provided. He was then asked whether he was saying that he was not confident in the quality of the courses and training delivered by the independent training sector. The minister failed to express his confidence; instead he repeated that he was confident in the CIT and the training they provided, and that was why the government provided at least 75 per cent of funding to them.
In fact this funding is more like 90 per cent. The 2021 Report on government services showed that only 10.5 per cent was going to the independents, yet 75 per cent of students who enrol in VET training courses do so in the independent sector.
When questioned about this, the government mentioned the Skilled Capital and User Choice funding. Let us be clear about this. Only 49 per cent of User Choice goes to the private sector—about $7.5 million—whilst 85 per cent of Skilled Capital goes to the private sector, or $2.1 million. Out of this whole budget, only $9.6 million goes to support the study of students who choose to study in the private sector. That is less than $10 million out of a supposed $240 million budget. This means that these students are forced to pay their own way for their studies, without government support. There is significant inequality in the system.
This inequality is also demonstrated in the $4.2 million refresh of the government’s Study Canberra website, which so far includes a couple of sentences at the end of the entire page spruiking the CIT, whilst the front-page map only gives the CIT as a place