Page 1779 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 4 May 2005

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When I first became minister, we were not meeting the training commencements required under the ANTA agreement and I had to go and seek the growth money from the ANTA agreement as special dispensation from the commonwealth because those opportunities were not there. To their credit, they gave us that money in recognition of the pressures we were being faced with because of the bushfire that had just occurred. We got that growth money, even though we were not seeing the growth that was required under the agreement. We invested then in a publicity campaign—put enormous resources into making sure that everyone knew what their entitlements were—and we have seen an absolutely massive growth in training in the ACT. We have seen it peak—go right up to the top—and we are seeing some flattening out of that. The money provided for in the budget is in recognition of the fact that we expect that the peak has occurred and that we have enough money there to meet our responsibilities to fund training in the ACT.

I should say, on the other hand, that, whilst we have invested that money, the commonwealth has not added a cent. We put $5.1 million in last year alone—not one cent from the commonwealth, in a situation where we are in a joint partnership—so $14.1 million from the ACT government, meeting their responsibilities, and $500,000 from the commonwealth.

MRS DUNNE: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Minister, to what extent is your decision to slash funding to the VET sector a reflection of your obvious ideological objection to the national training agreement?

MS GALLAGHER: I do not have an ideological objection to the national training agreement. We want a national training agreement. What we do not want is a commonwealth training agreement. There is a difference. What the commonwealth wants is a commonwealth training agreement whereby the states fund it 70 per cent of the way and the commonwealth funds it 30 per cent of the way. What the states and territories are saying is, “Hang on a minute. That’s not fair. That’s not a national training system. That’s not governments working together. That’s one government using their muscle to say, ‘We will provide you with less than 30 per cent of the money but we want 100 per cent of the control. We want to tell you how to hire and fire your staff in TAFE colleges, even though they are your employees; we want to do that. We want to remove apprentices from state-based awards, from the protections they seek there. We want to have a council that is not representative of training across Australia. We want eight employer representatives and one employee representative’—that is not representative of training arrangements—‘we want three votes on the ministerial council, we want to chair the ministerial council and we want to tell you how to spend $20 billion.’”

Any joker in the street could see that that is not fair: “States, you fund $20 billion and then we will tell you how to spend it. We will spend that money for you and we will spend it in a way, and with strings attached, that does not meet what states and territories say they need in order to deliver training in their own jurisdictions.” So it is not an ideological opposition to a training agenda. It is a straightforward, “This is not fair.” If Mrs Dunne were in my position and she sat here and said, “Well, that is fair. That is fair for Canberrans, for young people,” she would not be doing her job properly.

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