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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 30 June 2011) . . Page.. 3160 ..


In closing, I note that members of the Canberra Liberals have now twice visited the enlarged Cotter Dam project, as well as the Murrumbidgee to Googong pipeline and the Googong Dam. And I want to record our thanks to the managing director of Actew Corporation for the courtesy shown to us during these visits.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Proposed expenditure—Part 1.20—Canberra Institute of Technology $67,979,000 (net cost of outputs) and $6,830,000 (capital injection), totalling $74,809,000.

MR DOSZPOT (Brindabella) (1.43 am): I do not intend to delay the Assembly too long on this. There is a great need for the provision of quality vocational education. We know that there are skill shortages in Canberra. So it seems somewhat strange that we have reductions in staff due in part to meet efficiencies. We were told at estimates that there was an enrolment target of 19,000 and that this was exceeded, but I accept that it would depend on in which courses the enrolments were.

I accept that these courses will wax and wane in popularity and demand and I appreciate that the number of international students, estimated to drop by a third, will impact on required staff levels. My concern is that we are well positioned to meet the needs of industry now and into the future. I am aware that there are other concerns about the qualifications of many CIT staff, issues around the employment of casual teachers and their qualifications and suitability, and appropriate salary rates.

Like the committee, I too am cautious about what tangible benefits there might be in a merger of CIT and University of Canberra, and I hope the Bradley review might provide more answers to allow a more informed debate on the merits of such a proposal.

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (1.44 am): The CIT is a valuable education provider. In the ACT, we face a skills shortage and vocational education is essentially responding to the skills required now, the shortfalls and, importantly, the type of training that will be required in the future. CIT does continue to labour under cuts made in the 2008-09 budget, which reduced the recurrent expenditures by $9 million over the last three financial years.

This, combined with virtually all the ACT growth funding from the commonwealth for vocational education since 2009 going to private providers under contestability rules, has forced CIT to desperately chase difficult-to-attract commercial revenue, to reduce permanent teaching positions and to rely on casual teachers. These teachers have very limited access to professional development, unlike full-time teachers who generally still have access to good support.

The irony is that as part of the commonwealth stimulus package, CIT received funds for considerable capital works, most notably at the Fyshwick and Bruce campuses. However, with declining recurrent revenue, I am concerned that these excellent new facilities may prove difficult to both staff and resource. It is essential that we do not underfund these fantastic campuses.


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