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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 30 March 2017) . . Page.. 1341 ..

MS FITZHARRIS (Yerrabi—Minister for Health, Minister for Transport and City Services and Minister for Higher Education, Training and Research) (12.20), in reply: Welcome back to the chair, Madam Speaker. I am not sure if you heard, but we have been speaking about skilled capital and significant reforms in the VET sector which were led by you and continue. I know that you share concern about the likely lack of commonwealth funding in this very important space.

I would like to thank members for their contributions. I would like to comment on Mr Wall’s opening remarks about the process for this motion coming before this place. I will certainly support him in bringing this to admin and procedure. I have met the requirements of the Assembly in terms of lodging this motion. It was not intended to be late notice; in fact, I could have lodged it on Monday. I lodged it yesterday for today’s debate. I would fully support him bringing that forward so that executive motions are brought forward on the Monday and we all have time to prepare.

I thank him, too, for his contribution. Like him and like Ms Cody, I started my post-school career in the VET sector, in tourism and hospitality, which brought me my first ever full-time job, which I did for a number of years. I learnt much from it. I recall what I said last year at the ACT training awards. On the back of a very wet winter, we encountered a number of potholes. As minister for roads, I remembered some of that first training I received in my hospitality and tourism courses: that complaints management and customer service were a key part of anything we may do in our lives. I never at that point intended it to be about how we might manage complaints about potholes after a very wet winter, but it came in very handy. I was reminded of a number of classes and some on-the-ground experience we did throughout my VET training some 25 years ago.

We all have experiences. We all know people that have experiences in the VET sector. We all know how important they are to understanding the opportunities that present for people out there in the community.

I noticed that there was some commentary last week around perhaps an over-focus on higher education. It is very important for us, particularly in a city of immensely important higher education institutions, to continue to recognise our vocational institutions, our RTOs and, of course, the Canberra Institute of Technology, which educates tens of thousands of students every year across our city, students at all stages of their careers, students of many different ages, students looking for an opportunity to upskill, to start their own business, to strengthen their own business or to reskill in a very new area.

As Ms Cody noted, visiting CIT campuses is a real eye-opener. There are the established campuses around the city and the new CIT campus in Tuggeranong which has had such a significant impact. I know that members of this place support it.

I also note Mr Steel’s really important contribution around the value of national partnerships. He knows implicitly how important it is for states and territories and the commonwealth to cooperate to ensure funding for important services and important sectors across the country. People are really quite fed up with some of the difficulties with federation.

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