Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 4 December 1986
Page: 3414

Senator REID(8.15) —We are discussing the funding of certain tertiary education institutions. I do not wish to go over the wider issues which were dealt with adequately by Senator Peter Baume when he opened the debate for the Opposition. I want to refer more specifically to the institutions which I represent and in particular the printing trades course at the Canberra College of Technical and Further Education. The training of young people in the printing industry has reached a critical situation. Not very long ago I spoke about the printing industry after the report on the printing industry training requirements of the Australian Capital Territory and regional New South Wales was presented and sent to the Minister for Education (Senator Ryan). The report deals adequately with the situation but it seems that this year the situation will be somewhat worse than was predicted at the time I spoke on the report.

We need to remember that the printing industry is the single largest manufacturing industry in the Australian Capital Territory. It employs 41 per cent of those employed in local manufacturing. Young people are increasingly concerned about the possibility of getting training and apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are available but the training may not be in the Australian Capital Territory. The course that has been offered for some time by the Canberra TAFE College has been relevant to the industry here and in this region of New South Wales and it has been designed to accommodate the unique characteristics of the local industry. Many employers are very concerned about what is happening and that apparently in 1987 no students will be enrolled in stage 1 of the printing trades training courses. As we know from the report to which I have referred, stage 3 training in the near future will be transferred to Sydney. This will involve considerable costs not only for apprentices but for employers as well.

Earlier this week I met with a delegation of representatives of the Australian Government Printing Office, the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations, the Printing and Kindred Industries Union, printers from Wagga, Queanbeyan and Griffith and local printers and a representative of the Australian Capital Territory Apprenticeship Board. Those people in the printing trade are vitally concerned that young people may be deprived of the opportunity of training in an area where jobs are available. At present at least 40 positions are estimated to be available in the area. We seem to be pursuing a course which will cut out the opportunity for young people to do printing in this area.

The TAFE College has long suffered from a lack of access to equipment grants. Local industry has made donations to the TAFE college and provided equipment valued, I gather, at about $50,000 which means that the training is able to proceed but it still leaves a shortfall of about $80,000 which will have to be met irrespective of whether stage 3 moves to Sydney. A number of aspects of this are relevant and I seek leave to incorporate a statement which has been signed on behalf of a number of printers in the Australian Capital Territory concerning the training of apprentices in Canberra.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows-


Printers in Canberra are concerned about the future of the School of Printing at the Canberra College of TAFE.

Correspondence received recently indicates that facilities at the School are not adequate to maintain the current and projected training needs of the industry in the A.C.T.

We also learn from this correspondence that our apprentices will have to travel to the Sydney TAFE for their Stage 3 year, and that Stages 2 and 1 could also suffer the same fate in years to come. Further to this we are told that if we want apprentices trained in Canberra the industry will have to foot the bill for new machinery to keep pace with modern technology.

From our own gleanings we are of the opinion that equipment at the School is quite adequate. The apprentices seem to be of the same opinion.

We would like to point out that the training of an apprentice is the responsibility of the employer in his own shop. The TAFE is a support training, mainly theory, and testing ground of the apprentices skills. (I.E.-An apprentice is with his employer for 44 weeks of the year and goes to TAFE for 8 weeks of the year. The Printing School is the focal point of learning and updating technology. It ``polishes'' the learning in the print shop.)

Canberra TAFE has a proud record of training printing apprentices-Quite a few duxes and apprentices of the year.

We ask why the sudden decline? Why has the equipment at the School become inefficient in the past twelve months? Why is there a shortage of teachers? Why has the Prime Minister's Priority One-training the youth of Australia fallen into a heap in Canberra, where apparently the apprentices in the printing trade are going to suffer?

We can quote cases where apprentices are going to leave the trade because they have to go to Sydney to complete their courses. And, we ask how long it will be before the Canberra School of Printing will be closed down completely and all apprentices will have to travel to Sydney to do their TAFE courses? This will not enhance the attraction of apprentices to the printing trade, and add to the already chronic shortage of tradesmen already being experienced in the industry.

We remember back to the opening of the School of Printing in Canberra, when we were told ``Canberra, as the Capital of Australia had to be the show place and the School of Printing would be the best in Australia to show overseas visitors that we are just as good as their countries in the training of apprentices in this industry.''

We ask why this has suddenly been put into reverse?

Besides the costs involved to the employer it would be a detrimental step for Canberra employers to send apprentices to Sydney. This will adversely effect employers putting on apprentices and create less employment for young people. Why not (as was the practice in past years) bring teachers from Sydney if necessary? It would cost a lot less to bring 1 or 2 teachers from Sydney than to send 10 or 12 apprentices to that city. Printing is the largest manufacturing industry in the A.C.T. It employs in excess of 1,400 people and its turnover is $89,000,000.00 per year. We think this alone is enough to seek a review of the Printing School at Canberra TAFE and that it will fulfil its opening promise to be the best in Australia so that our apprentices will be trained with the best technology.

Canberra is a printing city-not only because of Government, but all the head offices of industry and commerce are here-and more are coming.

Can't we, the printing employers have our own apprentices trained in Canberra at our own College of TAFE?

Signed for and on behalf of














Senator REID —It is important that we concentrate our training for young people in areas where they will be able to get employment. Only last week the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Australian Capital Territory tabled a report relating to the hospitality industry. It referred to the need for improvements in the facilities for cooking training courses. There is a great need for an expansion in the TAFE college for that. Jobs are available in that industry as well. It is of great concern to printers in this town-as I have said, it is the largest manufacturing industry-and in this region that the printing trades course may disappear from the Canberra College of Technical and Further Education as appears likely if the current situation continues. I think it shows a lack of vision that the training courses in those areas where jobs are available are allowed to run down. Concern has certainly been expressed by the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations about the future of the printing industry in the Australian Capital Territory.

Of course, other matters in this legislation are significant. We have heard much about the English as a second language program and the impact of that, and I will not go over all the arguments there. But concern has been expressed to me by students and teachers at the Woden College of Technical and Further Education about the drastic cuts that are expected to take place in 1987 in the ESL and English for specific purposes programs. Arguments have been put as to why it is counter-productive not to make sure that people coming to this country have the opportunity to learn English, to take a full part in our society and to be able to participate and be productive to the greatest extent possible. I know that copies of the letter I have referred to in speaking in the debate tonight were sent to the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke), to the Minister for Education and other relevant members of the Government and I hope that it will be taken into account.

It might be said that, in talking about these things, I am talking about spending extra money. In a sense that is right, but I believe that there are places where the Government has got its priorities wrong. I think a lot of the money spent through the community employment program has been wasted. I think a lot of money has been wasted promoting Priority One with not a lot of results. There has certainly been a great deal of government self-promotion in other areas. I saw the most absurd tax advertisement only the other day which must have cost a great deal of money. It is a question not so much of spending more but of getting the priorities right and spending money in areas where we will be providing opportunities for young people and people who want to get into the work force and be productive.

I know also that the Minister for Education received a letter not long ago commenting on the cuts in the evening classes at the Woden College of Technical and Further Education and, in particular, the typing courses. Many of the people doing these courses are not doing them just for fun; many of them are women whose marriages have broken down and who are desperately trying to re-establish their lives, get into the work force and acquire a skill which will enable them to work and not be totally dependent on the social security system. That is a matter of concern that needs to be addressed in this same debate. I have had a letter from students in the horticultural section of the Woden TAFE whose courses are being cut this year. They have been doing courses on a part time basis in the evenings and they have been told that, because of cuts during 1987, courses will be offered in the daytime. This does not suit people who have to pursue employment who are studying to acquire their qualifications in their spare time and who are doing evening courses. This is another aspect that needs to be addressed.

In conclusion, I want to refer to another matter concerning the Woden TAFE-a quite absurd situation that arose with the Australian Taxation Office. Woden TAFE is running a course to provide an opportunity for unemployed people to learn to use heavy equipment-tractors, front end loaders, back hoes, or whatever-and they have been working in that old area of Canberra where the sewage-works used to be. As a consequence, many men have obtained certificates which have enabled them to gain employment in industry in the heavy equipment area. Teachers were provided voluntarily by contractors in Canberra. The Woden TAFE had a tractor offered to it by the Ford Motor Co. It was to be given this tractor for 5,000 hours and it would then be returned to Ford. This was not allowed to take place because, apparently, people within the Taxation Office objected to the transaction as sales tax would not be paid on that tractor. The fact is that, if the Woden TAFE had had enough money to buy the tractor, which it did not, no sales tax would have been payable. Eventually, some arrangement was worked out, but for a long time a tractor was available on loan which would have meant that a number of young men would have had the opportunity to learn to drive it and obtain a relevant certificate to enable them to gain employment. This tractor was prevented from being made available because of what I regard as an absolutely absurd attitude of the sales tax section of the Tax Office in not seeing that by making it available in this instance, it would be possible for young people to get jobs and be meaningfully employed in the work force. It just amazes me that there does not seem to be any ability to look at a situation beyond the confines of, in this case, the normal sales tax rules to see that the situation would benefit not only the Woden TAFE, particularly, but also the unemployed people who, having got training and a certificate to drive and use a tractor such as this, would have been able to get off the unemployment benefit and find meaningful employment. These matters are relevant to what we are discussing tonight. My particular concern is in relation to the printing industry. It is facing a critical situation and I think this matter needs to be addressed by the Government. It is not good enough to say that it is a matter for the TAFE colleges. The problem goes much deeper than that.