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Monday, 31 October 2011
Page: 12213

Mr GARRETT (Kingsford SmithMinister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth) (17:26): I want to thank members for their contribution to this debate on the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Amendment Bill 2011. I particularly note the remarks made by my colleague the member for Corangamite.

In summary, the VET sector does play a critical role in building our nation and our society. The government recognises the challenge for the VET sector to be responsive to the needs for economic growth and increased productivity through skills, and also the need for a more mobile workforce ready to adapt to changing economic needs across state boundaries.

The National VET Regulator and the Australian Skills Quality Authority began operations on 1 July this year. The commencement of the authority is a great achievement and represents one of the most significant reforms of the VET sector in the past two decades. It has come about through the productive efforts of state and territory governments and the Australian government. Additionally, there has been real commitment from the VET sector for this reform.

The amending bill before the Main Committee addresses the concerns raised by stakeholders as well as the Senate Standing Committee for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and the Scrutiny of Bills Committee when the act was passed in March this year. There had been extensive consultations undertaken with stakeholders and they strongly support the amendments included in this bill—in particular, the objects clause. The objects clause was developed in consultation with stakeholders and confirms that a focus on quality is a joint key priority for the VET sector.

The bill is also amending section 9 of the act, clarifying the operation of the law in all states and territories and addressing concerns raised by Victoria and Western Australia that the national VET regulation legislation interferes with state relating to apprenticeships and the management of TAFE organisations. Now that these concerns have been addressed, the Australian government again encourages Victoria and Western Australia to reconsider their decision to join the national regulatory framework.

Finally, the amending bill reflects the government's continued commitment to working with governments and stakeholders to continually improve the quality and consistency of training across the VET sector. The fact is that a strong, nationally consistent regulatory framework is a key step in achieving this, and the amendments contained in this bill are welcome improvements. I commend the bill to the Main Committee.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.

Sitting suspended from 17:30 to 18:30