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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3082 ..

MRS BURKE (continuing):

Consultations with providers in the sector have shown that they have certainly not been negative about the proposed bill. In fact, they would be silly to knock back this proposal. I have not had any concerns put forward to me and I commend the bill.

I am heartened by the extent of national cooperation that has occurred during the consultation process. In order to keep pace with the ever-changing and dynamic nature of vocational education and training, it is important to remember that the other important group covered by this bill is, of course, the non-university higher education sector. Under the bill this sector will have nationally agreed protocols.

The bill, as the minister has told us, provides for compliance audits of all registered training organisations, and provides a process for them to gain national recognition once registered here in the ACT. It is again worthy of note that the bill covers an interstate university seeking to set up in the ACT and also a foreign university seeking to deliver university courses in the territory.

Mr Speaker, as our city grows it is important that we are ready and prepared with all legislative bases covered, particularly in something as important as education. It is a long and detailed bill that has been in the making for quite some time. It is a bill that reflects the spirit of national cooperation, and I commend the work of Minister Gallagher and Minister Corbell, who I think probably would have had some involvement, too. I would also like to acknowledge the work of many people-the Australian National Training Authority, the Department of Education, Science and Training; all the people who attended the many workshops; the ACT department of education; and, as I have said, Minister Corbell and, latterly, Minister Gallagher.

I applaud this integrated approach to both vocational and non-university providers of education and training in the ACT. After all, the people who will most benefit from all this hard work are the end users, and this in turn can only benefit the broader community as we continue to pursue improved quality assurance for education and training. The Liberal opposition are happy to support this bill.

MRS CROSS (6.40): Mr Speaker, I will also support this bill and I commend Ms Gallagher for introducing it. The Tertiary Accreditation and Registration Bill 2003 will bring the ACT into line with the Australian quality training framework. As Ms Gallagher has indicated, this bill is designed to ensure consistency in the accreditation of courses and the registration of providers. In fact, this has been the topic of many discussions in the education arena for years.

With this bill, along with the one that we will debate next week, I hope that the government is ensuring both high standards and consistency in accreditation within the ACT and across state boundaries.

The importance of education to our society is unquestioned. Horace Mann said, "Education, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equaliser of the conditions of men-the balance wheel of social machinery."Similarly, Benjamin Disraeli espoused the importance of education in proclaiming, "Upon the education of the people of this country, the fate of this country depends."

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