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Tuesday, 1 November 2011
Page: 12331

Mr RAMSEY (Grey) (16:52): by leave—I commend the member for Kingston and the Chair of the Standing Committee on Education and Employment on her summary of the bills that have been referred back to his House from that committee. I will not detail those bills by name. However, she did focus on the predominant area that was raised in the 22 submissions we received: the extension of the 24-hour notification period to the tuition protection service. In any event, the committee has recommended 72 hours. While members of the opposition have not elected to lodge a dissenting report on this occasion, we did raise concerns about the 72 hours. The industry was asking for about a five-day period. The 72-hour period may still be too short.

It is probably worth pointing out for the benefit of the House that there are two parties that can default on delivery of service. On the one hand we have the provider who might default on delivery of the service—that is, the provider might not able to deliver the subject in the place designated or, in fact, the provider might be closing its doors—and, in my opinion, 24 hours is more than enough notification time. The student deserves to know very quickly, firstly, that the course is not available and, secondly, that the TPS will be looking for an alternative for them. Of course, the student can also default, in which case the default is triggered if they do not roll up on the first day of the course. There can be a number of reasons for this. The 24 hours has been extended to 72 hours to give the provider a chance to find the student, check out what their personal circumstances are and see if something else can be arranged, and, if it cannot happen in that period of time, to alert the TPS. There are some concerns amongst opposition members that the period should have been a bit longer than 72 hours from the point of view that it may fall on a weekend or a public holiday and the TPS would be notified when, in any case, they may well find the student and arrange something different. But it seemed that the industry is generally relaxed about the 72 hours so, in that case, we elected not to lodge a dissenting report.

Also, a number of submissions had issues with the start-up time of July 2012. It would be fair to say that a number said that it must start by July 2012, bring it on and the sooner the better, but there were others who felt that, because of specific circumstances in their area of education delivery, July 2012 was going to be quite a difficult target to meet. On balance, the opposition allowed that to stand but have concerns with it. A number of other issues were raised around the collection of fees, the length of semesters, and school years being a full year but only being able to collect the fees for half a year. Some of the English-language services, which operate over different periods, also have some concerns with the ability to collect fees on time. But, on balance, we have allowed the bills to be returned to the House with only one meaningful amendment.