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Kemp duds TAFE by $220 million.

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Kemp Duds TAFE By $220 Million Kim Carr - Parliamentary Secretary for Education

Media Statement - 24 November 2000

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The Federal Government, under heavy pressure from all State Ministers and the Federal Opposition to fund its share of growth in vocational education and training, has underspent in its New Apprenticeships and related programs by over $220 million in the last two years.

This was revealed by Departmental officials to a Senate Estimates Committee last night.

"TAFE has reached desperation point, and must turn students away through lack of funding," said Senator Kim Carr Labor's Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate. "Meanwhile the Government has callously and inexplicably handed back to consolidated revenue $220 million in unspent funds in employer incentives and other TAFE monies under the Scheme.

"This represents over 10% of the funding available for the starved vocational education system, including the New Apprenticeships Scheme," he said.

Senator Carr said that the States had reached breaking point over the issue of funding for vocational education and training (VET). "Last Friday, at a meeting of the Ministerial Council, all States, including Coalition-held South Australia and Western Australia, declared that they could not go on under Dr Kemp's so-called 'growth through efficiencies' policy.

"This obliged the States to expand TAFE provision, but provided not one extra dollar to fund this growth," he explained. "This has seriously undermined the quality of vocational education.

"Now the States have ganged up on the Commonwealth and refused to bow to Kemp's threats to stop all funds to VET for next year. They will be horrified and dismayed to learn that $220 million has languished unspent in the VET New Apprenticeships budget and that Kemp has refused to reallocate this money for growth."

The funds, from the Skills Development and Transition Support Program and the employer incentives associated with New Apprenticeships, could have been used to alleviate the TAFE funding crisis, Senator Carr said.

Meanwhile, it was also revealed to the Senate Estimates Committee that a $1 billion reduction per annum in labour market programs funding had not been diverted to New Apprenticeships, as the Government had implied. "In 1996 Dr Kemp promised that the New Apprenticeship Scheme was to replace other labour market programs," Senator Carr pointed out. "But in fact only half of the permanent cut in those programs has been devoted to Dr Kemp's flagship scheme in VET.

"Now there is mutiny on the ship as the State Ministers tell the Commonwealth to walk the plank over funding. The Government itself expects up to 3% growth in demand for VET per

year, but, instead of funding that growth, it has been handing unspent funds back to consolidated revenue and robbing the TAFE system and its students."

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