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Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Page: 12133

Mr SULLIVAN (7:25 PM) —I rise to support the Higher Education Support Amendment (VET FEE-HELP and Tertiary Admission Centres) Bill 2009 before the House today. I will make some comments in a moment which may assist the member for Parkes, so I hope that he takes the time to read them tomorrow. It is frustrating on the one hand that we have so much legislation in this term of our government coming back to us from the Senate and having to be rejigged in the face of opposition from the coalition parties in the Senate. However, on this occasion I am relatively pleased, because it will give me an opportunity to speak on education matters within my electorate, which, because of the number of people who wanted to talk about the bill back in February, I was not able to do. So in that regard I am fairly pleased.

The two things that this legislation does is provide that personnel officers working for the tertiary admissions centres are covered by the same privacy arrangements as all other officers working in the higher education, vocational education and departmental area in relation to the privacy issues, and that information will be able to flow between them easily because of that. It is a super sensible idea. It is hard to understand why it needed to be done at this time. It is something that I cannot imagine has not caused difficulties for a long time, and it was an easy change to make.

The other aspects of this legislation are the changes to the manner in which VET-FEE HELP will operate in what are called reform states or territories. In this instance the only reform state or territory we have is Victoria. Were New South Wales to be granted the status of a reform state or territory, the problems that the member for Parkes has just outlined in relation to the Advanced Massage College of Australia in Dubbo would go away. The answer here is not that we need necessarily to lower the bar in terms of transfer credits—or articulation, as an earlier speaker had called it—but that we need to encourage New South Wales to look at their vocational education and training sector and to make the sorts of moves that have been made in Victoria. Once they have done that, the problems in New South Wales will go away.

I encourage not only New South Wales but my own state of Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, and Tasmania—I encourage them all—to get on board with these new status requirements. I just want to read out what is required. I will not read it out in full but read from what is required to be given the status of a reform state or territory. Basically client choice will determine where government funding goes—the funding follows the client; information and facilitation for individuals and businesses be provided so that they can comprehensively be informed about the training providers that are available; eligible students should receive some state government support; purchasers are not motivated to choose any particular provider but to choose a provider on the basis of quality, price and their individual choice; quality assurance; and all public funds for the delivery of training within the state or territory be open to all registered training organisations with registration within that jurisdiction.

In Victoria what this means is that students studying advanced diploma or diploma level courses that do not have credit transfer systems or articulations are able to get VET-FEE HELP—

Debate interrupted.