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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3084 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

profitable, job security is almost non-existent and yet the federal government wants to add to the burden on students, ever further increasing fees and the debts that students have to carry.

Unfortunately for the government and residents here in the ACT, we have to deal with the fallout from these regressive measures. This is typical of the shortsightedness of the federal government. It is not the federal government that will have to deal with the consequences of graduates not being able to afford a car or a home loan as they are in debt up to the hilt in order to pay their university degree. It is not the federal government that will have to deal with the invariable increases in stress, depression and suicide that come from the deliberate worsening of people's financial situations. Ultimately, the federal government's changes to higher education will mean fewer people are likely to take up a university degree or tertiary training, which will directly impact on the revenues to both the federal and ACT governments.

A number of reports have found that every university graduate contributes between 1.9 and 2.5 times the total cost of their education-primary, secondary and tertiary-through a progressive taxation system, and with Canberra having the highest density of university graduates in the country we cannot ignore this.

The legislation that we are debating today will bring the ACT in line with what is going on at a national level. It will create a system that will better advise the minister on accreditation and provide better accreditation of organisations here in the ACT. It is a bill worthy of support but we cannot ignore what is going on with both non-university and university tertiary accreditation across the ACT and how this is impacting on the residents of the ACT.

MS GALLAGHER (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (8.46), in reply: I thank members for their comments and for their indications of support for this bill. Members will note that the draft that was presented in April included a reference to the commencement date of 1 July 2003 which, of course, has passed. The commencement date I now propose is 1 November 2003 and I have circulated amendments to that effect. I acknowledge that Mrs Jacqui Burke brought that to our attention. I appreciate that and I thank her for her cooperation on this bill.

The ACT will be among the first to embed the model clauses in new legislation. This is a demonstration of our commitment to high-quality vocational education and training systems and sends a clear message of our support for the Australian quality training framework. Only the highest standards are appropriate for those delivering vocational education and training in the ACT.

Both bills have been considered by the Assembly's Scrutiny of Bills and Subordinate Legislation Committee. This committee questioned whether the provider could claim the exemption granted to the University of the Third Age in the Tertiary Accreditation and Registration Bill. The committee has been advised that the U3A exemption is a longstanding one used in other legislation. It is also noted by name in the National Protocols for Higher Education, which form the basis for the registration and accreditation provisions of this bill.

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