Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 2 Hansard (8 March) . . Page.. 442..
MR QUINLAN (continuing):
Nevertheless, it is necessary that the further step is taken, that the skilled migrants themselves are informed of their rights. It is incumbent on employers to know their obligations. Nevertheless, they are to some extent incorporated in the document that is signed, the sponsorship document. Maybe we should ensure that every skilled worker gets at least some advice on what their rights are or where they go, if that list of rights would be too complicated, for clarification and information. I am assured that Senator Lundy, our federal counterparts and the unions will press for that to occur. That is a positive step forward, a step that unfortunately has arisen out of the abominable treatment of some of the skilled workers that have been brought to Australia under various programs.
It has to be said that there was scant recognition given during the discussion so far as to what this government has done in relation to the skills shortage. And we have done a fair bit. I heard some quite passionate words used from the other side of the house about training. It is the case that it has been this government that has increased the funding of VET in the ACT in successive budgets from what I have to say was a quite unsatisfactory base.
I have not been backward, when talking to employer or business groups, in observing that they, to some extent, dropped the ball in not planning for the future, allowing the number of apprenticeships and the number of traineeships to lapse, allowing training and development to fall by the wayside and, in fact, supporting a federal government that is putting a higher and higher price on education, making it the right of the privileged as opposed to the right of all. The employer groups are supporting that government when we all know that education is as much an investment as it is an individual right. It is a national investment. Unless this federal government realise that, they are going to lose out and they are going to allow this situation to recur or continue.
The case in point is the much-lauded Celtic tiger, Ireland, which is now doing so well within the European Union and within the world economy. In its worst times it continued to invest in the education of its young people, even though they were exporting those young people to other countries. When they turned around their fortunes-and they have turned around their fortunes-they were able to draw upon that investment that they had made in their own young people to fuel their success.
If there is anything outside of this motion and any message that should go to the federal government, it is that you must look upon education as a right of every individual, despite their financial circumstances, and you must look upon it as an investment in the future of this country. The world economy will not allow us to continue-it will not happen-to live off the commodity exports from this nation and tell ourselves that we are economically clever, because we are not. We just happen to be, in this particular case in this era, the lucky country.
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (11.53): Firstly, let me say that I am very surprised at Mrs Dunne's statements that I am not interested in the skill shortages. She must have had her earmuffs on when the education and young people committee attended the VETA board last year and listened to their comments on skill shortages and when that committee was in discussions about forming new inquiries. It was quite amazing. Regarding her amendment, I have already mentioned the disassembling of ANTA and