Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 25 March 2015) . . Page.. 1097 ..
Ms Porter of course makes no reference to the real issues that are facing CIT, and it is a pity that in this motion she failed to take that opportunity to shine a light on what is holding CIT back from what it could and should be.
Ms Porter’s motion talks about what CIT should be, and there is much in this motion that we would agree to. The first four parts of the motion are straight statements of fact. There is no question that access to high quality skills education is necessary to the ongoing prosperity of the community; that a well-funded public TAFE system ensures that all citizens can gain access to skills education and training opportunities; that the Canberra Institute of Technology is the ACT’s sole public TAFE provider; and that CIT has played an important role in the economic and social life of the ACT.
However, on that first point, about access to high quality skills education, Ms Porter might like to check with those seeking Auslan interpreters and those wanting to undertake tertiary training in Auslan as to whether CIT is delivering access to high quality skills education. CIT, or perhaps the minister, does not see a need for Auslan unless there is a commercial outcome. So the reference to high quality skills education being necessary to the ongoing prosperity of the community might require that high quality skills education be linked to high commercial return.
Going further down the remaining points, there are others that are clearly open to debate and query. I know that the current minister for education will trot out her regular claim that all that the Canberra Liberals want to do is bring CIT down, and include me in that. She has mentioned this umpteen times. Every time there is some criticism—criticism that is calling for change—the minister trots out her now very familiar lines. The reality is that nothing could be further from the truth, Ms Burch. As a former member of the CIT Advisory Council, I have enormous respect and support for the history of the CIT, its contribution to ACT vocational education and the role that it should play.
I would contend that it is successive education ministers that are the true enemies of CIT because they have continued to accept mediocrity and there are issues they have refused to face that have been brought to them by students and teachers at CIT. They have continued to hide CIT’s mistakes. They have pretended not to believe the internal ructions, the dysfunctional workforce, the inappropriately trained teachers and directors that have been the hallmark of CIT for too long. It took one brave Labor education minister, Dr Bourke, to blow the whistle on this activity.
Ms Porter’s motion refers to CIT’s consistent delivery of high quality courses and outcomes for their students. That, of course, is what one would hope, but we know that they do not always do that. The current inquiry will have an opportunity to further examine that issue, so again perhaps this motion from the chair of the education and training committee is not so well timed. In past years we have challenged the frequency of teachers being engaged with inappropriate or insufficient qualifications, and I cannot be certain that that particular trait does not continue to this day. That clearly brings into question the ability of consistent delivery of high quality courses, just as it would and does at times challenge the regard and confidence in CIT from employers and graduates.