Page 2668 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 15 August 2017

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addressed. But in the beginning some constituents said that when they rang Access Canberra, as they had been instructed, as I told constituents to do and as I continue to tell them, sometimes they were told, “We do not take those complaints.” Or when people ring up to say, “I have complained about this in the past,” they have been told, “We have no record of any previous complaints.”

This is not okay either, but it may illustrate a lack of training or understanding on the part of some of the operators in Access Canberra. I am reasonably sure this has been addressed. It has not been something that has been raised with me more recently, but it certainly was the case in the first instance when the number of complaints was increasing about 12 to 18 months ago.

In summary, thank you to the government for the work they have done so far in Access Canberra and in Minister Fitzharris’s directorate of Transport Canberra and City Services. We appreciate that you have been attempting to address this issue. But please do not feel that your work here is done, because there are still people who are very adversely affected. As I have said, they fear that come the warmer months it is going to ramp up again. Please do not let that happen.

MS CODY (Murrumbidgee) (12.04): I rise to praise the work of the ACT government in the space of higher education, training and research, and their commitment to ensuring the sector is as inclusive, diverse and accessible as possible. Post-secondary education should not be treated as a privilege. Education and training opportunities are fundamental rights. They not only empower the individual; they make our society and economy stronger. I would like to congratulate Mr Barr and Ms Fitzharris for a budget that will support and develop initiatives to boost women in trades.

In 2015 women made up only three per cent of traditional trade apprenticeship enrolments. The ACT government is supporting women to get into tradie jobs by addressing barriers they face to enter a male-dominated field. Our industries are strengthened when they reflect the ACT population. Encouraging female tradies is one part of ensuring this robust diversity in our workforce.

Training should be accessible and opportunities should be diverse because this is how we ensure diversity of participation in the workforce. A diverse workforce is a robust one; so we must strengthen the workforce through prioritising equitable outcomes. We know that our universities in Canberra have world-class reputations. A reflection of this is that we attract international students from across the world. We also see international students travelling to Canberra to study at fantastic CIT. We have over 900 students from 80 different countries who both benefit from and contribute to the incredible opportunities in tertiary training and education.

Education is the ACT’s biggest international export. This is revenue that is not dependent on a federal Liberal government. Continued support in this sector reflects the ACT government’s move to diversify the ACT economy to ensure better financial autonomy. The higher education, training and research sector is not vital just to Canberra’s economy. It is also essential for our future to prepare young people for the workforce and contribute valuable scholarship to our shared knowledge as a society.

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