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Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Page: 3910


Senator LUDWIG (Special Minister of State and Cabinet Secretary) (3:49 PM) —I seek leave to make a short statement.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Leave is granted for two minutes.


Senator LUDWIG —The ISCs were established by the previous government, who determined the number, industry coverage and other governance arrangements. Ten ISCs were originally created to cover all industry sectors. They are part of industry advisory arrangements that are independent of the government. They were established as private companies to ensure that they were at arm’s length from the government. This government continues to support this approach, as it sees the value in advice that is independent of government.

ISCs are subject to the same scrutiny as other organisations that are contracted to the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. The government has expanded the number of ISCs to 11 to improve the industry coverage, expanded their role to include workforce development to support higher levels of direct engagement with industry and increased the scrutiny of ISCs through reporting arrangements to the department. Forty million dollars in EBPPP is not going to make ISCs; this is funding to upskill existing workers. ISCs are administering the program and receiving only a small facilitation fee. Arrangements for the Smarter Apprenticeships initiative are yet to be determined. ISCs are one of a number of organisations that may be eligible to access funding out of this program—$2.3 million from the National Green Skills Agreement must of course go to ISCs. This is to fund additional training package development, which is the core function of the ISCs. There is no evidence of the need for an inquiry of this nature.