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Monday, 31 October 2011
Page: 11995

Mr FORREST (Mallee) (11:54): Like the member for Murray and the member for Wanham, I am confused as to why this parliament is taking the time to debate an issue that is entirely within the jurisdiction of the state parliament of Victoria. Nevertheless, it does provide an opportunity for us to put on the record our commitment to the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning. It is a tremendous program. It gives the opportunity for young people who are not necessarily academically qualified to pursue an academic tertiary career but want to use their hands or get on with pragmatic and practical learning on the job.

Just recently in Sea Lake, the national banks made a major commitment to the Sea Lake Secondary College to enhance the opportunity for, particularly, young males to experience applied learning with regard to agriculture and machinery. This is not a discussion about the benefits of VCAL but a political opportunity for the federal Labor Party to divert interest from its own shortcomings as a government.

The Victorian government have made very strong commitments to VCAL. The problem they have is in response to a review of VCAL coordination funding which was tabled in April this year. That report itself raises questions about the funding of the coordination. It makes the point that VCE and other tertiary programs do not have a funded coordinator in place, and, on the basis of equity, it makes a strong point. The Victorian government have simply responded. They have not withdrawn funding from VCAL at all, as members on the other side have been asserting. The report I refer to, which is from April 2011, makes a statement that one of the striking aspects of the study involved documentation of a very imperfect relationship between coordination funding and reported allocations to the coordination role at a school level. The real objective is to make sure the funds get to the coalface, to the direct benefit of the students at the coalface.

It is interesting to confirm that funding has increased by 8.5 per cent since the introduction of the Baillieu-Ryan coalition government, and enrolment is expected to continue from 2011 to 2012. So the government is quite aware of this but it wants to make funding go more directly to the coalface, to the students, to make sure they benefit directly.

I think that the member for La Trobe and other Victorian federal members sitting on the government benches have created a diversion from their own inadequacies, not just in regard to education but across the board. The ineptness of the government with their focus on excessive, unabated borrowings and unaccountable spending has raised the problem of how to raise the money to fund such an outrageous program. Their answer to that is a tax. They tax, borrow and spend. That is the Labor formula, it seems, and that is what the Baillieu-Ryan government in Victoria has inherited, a basket case of mismanaged programs.

I will mention just a few of those programs: the desalination plant down at Wonthaggi; Myki, with billions of dollars sunk into programs that did not provide a benefit; and the north-south pipeline, transporting my constituents' water to service Melbourne, with billions of dollars wasted on something not even needed. It just seems that the Baillieu government has inherited what coalition governments inherit all over the place. It will be a challenge confronting our side of the chamber, when we resume responsibility of the Treasury benches after the mob over there have finished, to find a way for every dollar to get spent wisely and properly for the benefit of the recipients of those programs. This list is a classic example of a government that wants to make sure that the millions of dollars that it makes available for education get spent properly and adequately and that the people at the end of the chain benefit. I do not support this motion at all; I think it is a red herring and the government members on the other side should focus on their own inadequacies.

Debate adjourned.