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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3083 ..

MRS CROSS (continuing):

Education is the engine that drives society forward, thus it is up to the government and to us as legislators to ensure that standards of education are maximised and that standards are always increasing. Interestingly, though, Mr Speaker, the standards of education are often neglected in the drive to cover the curricula and finance the operation. This is particularly the case with on-the-job training and vocational education. The lack of a general nationwide accreditation system for on-the-job training has meant that standards of this training have varied greatly, and sometimes this has left a great deal to be desired. It is often assumed anyone can be a plumber, a builder or an electrician.

The Tertiary Accreditation and Registration Bill 2003 will ensure that a minimum standard is in place across all levels of higher education, from vocational and on-the-job training to universities. Ms Gallagher is to be applauded for introducing such legislation and ensuring that the ACT maintains its good position on the education side of training.

However, this is not enough. The government must go further. The government has laid the groundwork to increase the standards of trades and higher education. They have ensured that a minimum level of training is acquired. The government must now embark on a campaign to ensure that increasing numbers of people enter these career paths. This can only be done with some positive and demonstrative action. Public advertising is really important and can be used by the government to promote various trades where we have shortages of skilled people.

There can be a concerted effort to increase the prestige, security and remuneration of these jobs. This is the next challenge for Ms Gallagher and the government, a challenge I would hope that Ms Gallagher is happy to take on and one that the government would accept.

Mr Speaker, I will be supporting the Tertiary Accreditation and Registration Bill 2003, and once again I commend Ms Gallagher for this bill.

MS DUNDAS (6.43): Mr Speaker, I will be supporting this bill in line with the support given by my Australian Democrats' colleagues on a federal level. We live in a rapidly and continually changing world and it is important that residents of the ACT have access to the highest standard of vocational and tertiary education. These standards can only be maintained through proper accreditation and auditing.

It is also important to highlight the provisions of this bill and the Vocational Education and Training Bill that will allow interstate and foreign tertiary institutions to deliver courses here in the ACT. Competition in the provision of educational services is not always a good thing but there is no reason why the residents of the ACT should be excluded from the many tertiary providers that are available in other Australian cities. I support this legislation as it establishes the necessary accreditations and quality assurances that higher education in the ACT needs.

I would also like to draw attention to the function of the council that will inquire into and advise the minister on issues about vocational education and training and higher education. I am sure that this Assembly does not need reminding of the crises that higher education finds itself in. Seven years of reduced funding by the federal government has passed more and more costs onto students, courses have been cut because they are not

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