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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (28 April) . . Page.. 66 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

negotiations on the training levy can finally come to fruition, but right now". If you will allow me a second, Mrs Carnell, I will quote from Hansard; but you did say exactly that. I will not go over it again; but that is basically the gist of what you said, Mrs Carnell. A year after the Bill was passed, the number of apprentices that had been employed was, in fact, 42. That was on 9 September. So, about 10 months after the money was taken and 150 jobs should have been available, there were only 42. By mid-February, earlier this year, 15 months after the fund had started, the number had risen to 67 - less than half of the number that you and Mr De Domenico promised would be available straightaway. My concern, Chief Minister, is that both I and, I believe, Mr Moore, and also Ms Tucker and the Greens at the time, were persuaded to support this legislation because of the guarantees. My question is this: Given that the MBA appears not to have met its obligations, will you find out where the promised jobs are and where the money is, and will you initiate steps to retrieve at least half of the money from the MBA?

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I understand that on 30 March 1997 the Master Builders Association Training Group (ACT) Inc. signed an agreement with the then Department of Business, the Arts, Sport and Tourism in relation to the operation of the on-site skills centre. As Mr Osborne said, the agreement enabled $300,000 to be allocated to the MBA from the Long Service Leave Board training levy - and that was the issue that Mr Osborne was talking about. The duration of the agreement was until 30 November 1997. The purpose of the agreement was to establish an on-site training centre, known as the skills centre, for the ACT building and construction industry. The skills centre provides training to new or currently unemployed apprentices and trainees. Mr Speaker, the target outlined in the agreement was to engage and/or commence training for about 80 pre-apprentices/pre-trainees and apprentices/trainees.

Mr Speaker, I am advised that on 2 April 1998 the MBA provided a final report, which was required by the agreement, which showed that 25 pre-apprenticeship training positions had been filled; 34 pre-vocational trainee positions had been filled; 10 pre-vocational construction worker positions focusing on wet trades had been filled; six mature age apprentice/trainee positions had been filled; and 11 out-of-trade apprentice positions had been filled. That is 86 positions. Mr Speaker, this means that the MBA more than met the training target set out in the agreement.

Mr Speaker, in addition, 28 apprentices who were not allocated to a particular employer during the building downturn were also trained at the centre. So, that is on top of what we have talked about, Mr Speaker. This figure is not part of the target groups listed above. While it was not part of the agreement, the MBA undertook to contribute additional funding of $70,000 from the commencement of the program. The final report indicates that the MBA, in fact, contributed $86,265.67 to the centre from its own resources, Mr Speaker.

I think it is important that the ACT seizes opportunities like these where we can get money from the private sector to help us with these situations. Mr Speaker, I believe that the skills centre, with the assistance of the Government, has been one mechanism, as we have seen, of keeping in work apprentices who may not have been able to stay in work during a downturn in the industry. So, it appears, certainly from the advice that I have been given today, Mr Speaker, that the MBA did meet the targets outlined in the agreement.

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