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Monday, 21 March 2011
Page: 1295


Senator FEENEY (Parliamentary Secretary for Defence) (4:20 PM) —I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:

That the provisions of paragraphs (5) to (8) of standing order 111 not apply to the following bills, allowing them to be considered during this period of sittings:

Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2010-2011

Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2010-2011

Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Child Care Rebate) Bill 2011

National Vocational Education and Training Regulator (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2011.

I also table a statement of reasons justifying the need for this bill to be considered during the sittings and seek leave to have the statements incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statements read as follows—

APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 3) 2010-2011

APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 4) 2010-2011

Purpose of the Bills

The bills request legislative authority for expenditure to be incurred in respect of 2010-2011.

Reasons for Urgency

Appropriations proposed in the bills provide funding for expenditure that is required to implement decisions and funding adjustments, that involve further expenditure in 2010-11, which have been agreed since the 2010-11 Budget. Passage of the bills before the last day of the 2011 Autumn Sittings will ensure continuity of the Government’s programs and the Commonwealth’s ability to meet its obligations as they fall due. Should passage not be granted in the 2011 Autumn Sittings, activities to be funded by the bills may be deferred or significantly delayed.


FAMILY ASSISTANCE LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (CHILD CARE REBATE) BILL

Purpose of the Bill

There has been a public commitment by the Government to introduce fortnightly payment of the Child Care Rebate from July 2011.

Reasons for Urgency

The Government made a pre-election commitment to pay the Child Care Rebate fortnightly from July 2011. To give effect to this commitment, amendments to the timing and method of rebate payments must be made to the family assistance legislation.

The Centrelink annual payment cycle for families’ entitlements commences on 1 July each financial year and so enacting fortnightly payments from the first week after 1 July 2011 is essential for ease of administration for families, child care services and Centrelink. Passage of the bill in the 2011 Autumn sittings will ensure that the July 2011 commencement date can be met.

 —————

NATIONAL VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING REGULATOR (CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS) BILL

Purpose of the Bill

On 7 December 2009 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to the creation of the National Vocational Education and Training (VET) Regulator (NVR) and Standards Council. The NVR will assist in ensuring that skills development in Australia is delivered through a high quality training system. By underpinning the quality of the system it will allow employers and students to be confident about the outcomes of the training they receive.

The National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Bill 2010 and the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator (Transitional Provisions) Bill 2010, which were introduced into the Senate on 26 November 2010, will form a new statutory authority with responsibilities and powers for the registration and audit of registered training organisations (RTOs) that operate in multiple jurisdictions, train international students, or operate in the territories or one of the referring states and accreditation of courses in the VET sector. The bills will also strengthen mechanisms for the monitoring and enforcement of the regulatory framework.

The National Vocational Education and Training Regulator (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2011 is essential to ensure that the new regulatory framework interacts properly with other regulatory frameworks and funding programs, including the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 and the VET FEE-Help component of the Higher Education Support Act 2003.

Reasons for Urgency

  • The package of bills establishing the NVR and ensuring that the new regulatory framework interacts properly with other regulatory frameworks and funding programs are:
  • the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Bill 2010 and the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator (Transitional Provisions) Bill 2010, which were introduced in the Senate on 26 November 2010; and
  • the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2011.

The Budget announcement regarding the NVR indicated that the regulator would commence regulatory operations in April 2011. In order to meet this start date it is important that the package of bills to establish the NVR and ensure that the new regulatory framework interacts properly with other regulatory frameworks and funding programs is passed during the Autumn sittings.

 Timely passage of these bills is important to support:

  • referral and mirroring by the states
  • appointment of senior officers of the new agency
  • considered transfer of staff and processes from the state and territory regulators to the new agency, and
  • the reputation of Australia’s international education sector.

Four states have indicated that they will refer powers to the Commonwealth to support the establishment of the NVR. Two states, Victoria and Western Australia have indicated they will enact mirroring legislation. The territories also support this proposal. Finalisation of the bills in the Autumn sittings is important as it will facilitate states and territories to make their own legislative arrangements to support the establishment of the NVR.

The bills establish a number of statutory officers and until the legislation passes and the commencement of the NVR is assured, it will not be possible to recruit senior officers.

Given that a range of regulatory functions will transfer from state and territory bodies to the NV2 it is important that detailed transition plans are developed to cover matters including the transfer of staff from state and territory regulators to the NVR and new arrangements for the regulation of RTOs. However, it is difficult to progress these discussions until the bills have been passed and a start date for the NVR confirmed.

The NVR and its strengthened monitoring and enforcement powers are integral to the Government’s response to the weaknesses that have been identified in regulation under both the Australian Qualifications and Training Framework and the regulatory framework for international education.

The NVR also requires a number of legislative instruments in order to be fully operational. These legislative instruments cannot be laid before the Parliament until after the bills have passed.

Senator McLucas to move on the next day of sitting:

   That, in accordance with section 5 of the Parliament Act 1974, the Senate approves the proposal by the National Capital Authority for capital works within the Parliamentary Zone relating to the installation of artwork known as ‘The Prime Ministers’.