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Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Page: 5428

Ms GILLARD (Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion) (6:04 PM) —Just trying to take in turn and stay up with the order, I think the last question asked of me by the shadow minister was about trade training centres. Let me answer that. There are 147 projects underway to construct or refurbish trade training centres; 22 trade training centre projects have been completed; 42 school sites are delivering new trade qualifications as a result of trades training centre funding, benefiting 70 schools. By the end of 2010 approximately 68 trade training centre projects benefiting 173 schools are scheduled to be completed.

This is a 10-year program running exactly on time and exactly as promised, despite the continued misrepresentations of the opposition to the contrary. The great threat to this program is from the cutbacks promised by the Leader of the Opposition which mean that 1,800 schools will miss out on the opportunity to get a trade training centre. In addition, if the prospect of missing out was not bad enough, around 300 schools were promised money last November and they would have that money ripped out of their hands if the Leader of the Opposition becomes Prime Minister and implements that cut. The cuts he proposes will rip money out of the hands of 180 schools. If there is any shred of decency about the opposition, they will name those schools so schools know who will have the money ripped out of their hands after it was promised. Until the opposition does that, we will raise with every school the likelihood that they will be the ones to lose that money, to have it ripped out of their hands.

I am asked about Fair Work Australia appointments. It is a somewhat interesting question. Let me remind the Committee of the appointments made to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission by the former Howard government.

Mr Keenan —How is this remotely relevant?

Ms GILLARD —I think this is an important backdrop to the consideration of appointments. The former Howard government appointed 19 men and one woman. Why was it that across almost 12 years in industrial relations only one out of 20 appointments was a woman? Why was it that the Howard government when in office formed the view that women were too incompetent or too underqualified to take these appointments? I think that is a question working Australian women would be asking themselves. Of the appointments, only two had union backgrounds, one had a government background and the rest largely had employer backgrounds, including four former Liberal staffers. That is interesting—mates appointments.

On the question of who has been appointed to Fair Work Australia under this government, 19 appointments have been made so far—12 dual appointments and seven as a result of advertisements. They comprise 13 men and six women. It is a far better record than that of those opposite. Nine have a union background, four have an employer background, three have a legal background and three have a government background. We obviously want high-quality applicants to respond to the advertisements. Each appointment that has been made has been recommended by my department. I suggest to those opposite that if they are genuinely concerned about this matter then they should be encouraging high-quality applicants.

I am more than happy to answer the childcare questions, but I may need a little additional time to do that so I alert people to that now. Let me say to the shadow minister—and I know the shadow minister has been recently appointed to her job—that there is any amount of information in the public domain on the questions she has asked. The government has been through a huge consultation process on the quality agenda involving regulatory impact statements and COAG negotiations. Any amount of documentation is available and I would refer her to it. But she has made a completely incorrect statement about the effect of the quality agenda on childcare fees, and I do not want Australian parents to listen to that and be concerned about that because it is simply not right. (Time expired)