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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3233 ..

The CIT is the ACT’s largest tertiary education provider. It offers over 500 courses to all types of students, including students from approximately 50 different countries. As an institution that prides itself on providing its students with practical education, it is vital that the CIT maintains close ties to industry and attracts qualified educators with field experience. This is made even more essential given the fact that the CIT is a revenue generation entity, according to the minister, drawing a third of its income from own-source revenue options.

Hence, it is important that the CIT has a clear road map and a firm sense of its business development objective. That said, being a government organisation with a revenue imperative, it is important that the government maintains necessary processes to objectively consider the merits of tenders. It is one thing for the CIT and CIT Solutions to strive to be the most favoured tenderer of the ACT government; it is another that they are actually positioned to be so.

This is an important distinction as the CIT or CIT Solutions can be competing with approximately 120 registered training organisations in ACT government tenders. The government has a dual responsibility here. On the one hand, it is to ensure that the CIT succeeds based on the quality of its training programs. On the other, it is to ensure that RTOs, many of which are small business enterprises, are also given a fair go.

In the government’s push to find scale efficiencies it is important to highlight that the bedrock of the ACT economy is primarily small to medium-sized enterprises. I say this with the commonwealth government’s productivity placements program, PPP, in mind. Many RTOs in Canberra rely on it as part of their revenue scheme. It is important that the government does not establish inadvertent institutional monopolies. Instead, it should create an economy that fosters SME growth and prosperity through competition.

As we have seen in the case of the Shepherd Centre and Noah’s Ark, both organisations were once supported under commonwealth government funding managed within Mr Barr’s portfolio. There was little consideration of merit in service provision and due process when it came to the Stanhope government’s funding reallocation.

On a related matter, it is interesting to note during estimates that the five priority industries for the PPP included one core innovation. Although the other industry priorities—government services, construction and property services, community services and health, and business skills—seem self-explanatory, it is felt that innovation has the propensity to be treated as a catch-all category.

This is especially the case in the light of the government’s response to provide further information regarding this matter during estimates. We were told during the committee’s hearing on 21 May 2010:

We have got scope in our own funding and through the priority support program, which gives us a bit more flexibility than what you can sometimes do with traditional apprenticeship and traineeship funding … Sometimes industries will

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