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Thursday, 12 November 1998
Page: 255

Dr KEMP (Education, Training and Youth Affairs; Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) (10:28 AM) —I move:

That the bill be now read a second time.

The bill amends the Australian National Training Authority Act 1992 to reflect the new agreement between the Commonwealth, states and territories on vocational education and training, setting out planning, accountability and funding arrangements for the three years 1998 to 2000.

By way of consequential amendments, the bill also amends the Vocational Education and Training Funding Act 1992 to incorporate into the general allocation the funding previously set aside specifically to support off-the-job training for traineeships and to supplement the amounts appropriated for 1998 and 1999 in accordance with real price movements reflected in Treasury indices.

The bill also rectifies an omission made in the original Australian National Training Authority Act by making it clear that the Australian National Training Authority (ANTA) is exempt from state and territory taxes to which the Commonwealth is not subject.

The new ANTA Agreement reflected in the bill is founded on a recognition by both the Commonwealth and state and territory governments that vocational education and training is integral to the development of an Australian work force with the range and depth of skills necessary to increase the productivity and competitiveness of Australian industry.

A key feature of the new agreement is that it provides a stable basis for funding vocational education and training over the next three years. The Commonwealth will maintain funding to the states and territories in real terms over the period of the agreement, and states and territories have undertaken to achieve growth in their vocational education and training systems through efficiencies. For 1998, the states and territories collectively have planned to deliver an extra 55,000 student places.

This is an excellent outcome, particularly for young Australians, who will benefit from additional vocational education and training places that will help them gain real jobs. It is also a win for taxpayers, who can be assured that funds will be put to the best possible use.

It is evidence of this government's commitment to the vocational education and training sector that over the next three years the Commonwealth will contribute more than $2.7 billion through the ANTA Agreement, and this is in addition to around $500 million annual funding for other Commonwealth vocational education and training programs. Total Commonwealth funding for vocational education and training in 1998-99 will be $1.4 billion.

To ensure that the training provided will be responsive to the needs of businesses and of the economy, the new agreement fosters a leadership role for industry in the peak decision making, planning and advisory processes for vocational education and training.

The new ANTA Agreement provides a basis to encourage a stronger training culture in Australian enterprises and throughout the Australian community. To complement this the government has introduced significant reforms to make apprenticeships and traineeships more accessible and responsive to industry needs.

Apprenticeships have been modernised and are now expanding work-based training into new industries and occupations. Already new apprenticeships are expanding into industries such as agriculture, telecommunications and information technology where, for many occupations, there have been no nationally recognised training arrangements or qualifications.

The government's landmark reforms to vocational education and training embodied in the new ANTA Agreement will provide a sound basis for the Commonwealth, state and territory governments and industry in partnership to meet the training challenges that the economy and community will face as we move into the next century.

Mr Speaker, I commend the bill to the House and present the explanatory memorandum.

Debate (on motion by Ms Macklin) adjourned.