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5       Higher Education Support Amendment (VET FEE-HELP Reform) Bill 2015

Order of the day read for the adjourned debate on the motion of the Minister for Defence (Senator Payne)—That this bill be now read a second time.

Debate resumed.

Senator Carr moved the following amendment:

At the end of the motion, add “but the Senate calls on the Government to:

                 (a)   appoint a National Vocational Education and Training Ombudsman who would have the power to investigate consumer complaints and order the refund of course fees where Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) have been found to act unscrupulously, either to the student directly or the Government, whichever is applicable, resulting in the student discharging any related VET FEE-HELP debt;

                 (b)   support the call for the Auditor General to conduct an audit on the use of VET FEE-HELP;

                 (c)   amend the Higher Education Support Act 2003 to impose caps on tuition fee amount similar to the student contribution caps for HECS-HELP;

                 (d)   reduce the lifetime loan limit for VET FEE-HELP to half the current amount;

                 (e)   ban or directly regulate brokers or marketing agents; and

                  (f)   provide the Department and the Minister with the necessary statutory powers to suspend VET FEE-HELP payments to providers which are under investigation”.

Debate ensued.

At 2 pm : Debate was interrupted while Senator O’Neill was speaking.