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State Ministers in revolt over Coalition training policy.

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State Ministers In Revolt Over Coalition Training Policy Kim Carr - Parliamentary Secretary for Education

Media Statement - 14 November 2000

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Australia's vocational education and training has reached crisis point, according to Senator Kim Carr, Labor's Parliamentary Secretary for Education.

State Ministers' anger over the Federal Coalition approach to vocational education has erupted in an open letter to the Prime Minister. Senator Carr has supported the States' action. He has drawn attention to the report of the Senate Committee of Inquiry into the Quality of Vocational Education and Training, released last week. Senator Carr is also Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate.

"The Ministers responsible for vocational education in all four eastern states have united to call for a 'sensible funding agreement' that provides for additional funds for the growth necessary in our training system," said Senator Carr.

"Dr Kemp has refused to engage with the States in meaningful discussion on funding for the next three years in VET," Senator Carr said. "He trumpets his government's plans for growth in TAFE, but refuses to allocate one extra dollar to pay the Commonwealth's share of it. This has been his policy since the Coalition came to power in 1996.

"The result was inevitable," said Senator Carr. "The Senate Inquiry Report, Aspiring to Excellence, reveals serious undermining of quality and growing skill shortages in crucial areas of the economy.

"In traditional trade areas - construction, automotive trades and manufacturing - as well as in emerging fields such as IT, Australia cannot produce the technically-trained labour power needed for economic growth and well-being.

"The situation is serious and urgent," Senator Carr said. "Dr Kemp, meanwhile, plays stupid games of cat and mouse with the States, refusing to come to the table to negotiate a proper funding agreement.

"The current funding runs out on December 31st, but so far the Government has only offered a temporary one-year funding arrangement, which fails to meet its responsibility for growth or forward planning."

Senator Carr said it was critical that the Commonwealth heeded the calls from the State Ministers - representing 80% of Australia's population. "Our vocational education and training system involves 1.8 million Australians," said Senator Carr. "It is central to our economy and our future.

"Dr Kemp and the Coalition must take this issue seriously and listen to the calls from the

States, as well as the recommendations of the Senate Inquiry report. Urgent action is needed on vocational education funding."

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.