Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Friday, 31 May 1996
Page: 1554

Senator VANSTONE (Minister for Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs)(2.09 p.m.) —I want to respond briefly to the remarks of some senators during this debate. I was not here all the time but officers from the department have taken notes and provided some responses to some of the remarks that were made. I will try to be as brief as possible because I know there are other matters to be dealt with.

Senator Stott Despoja, I understand, expressed concerns that some of the non-government school funding may flow to wealthier non-government schools. Senator Stott Despoja should feel assured that that is not the intention. The $20.7 million for non-government schools capital is targeted to higher needs schools. Specifically, this additional assistance will provide assistance for technological advances in schools, about $17 million; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander support, $2.5 million; and hostels for rural students, $1 million. I can also assure the senator that the additional $20.7 million for non-government schools capital is just that—additional funding. It does not come at the expense of funding for government schools.

In relation to the query about Dr Kemp's announcement of more flexible funding for non-government schools, what I can say is that general recurrent grants for non-government schools under the policies of the previous government were purportedly based on financial need. However, there are now 25,000 students in non-government schools who have received less general recurrent funding than what they should have been entitled to had the Labor government not introduced its unfair and inequitable new schools funding arrangement in 1990.

Both Senator Carr and Senator Stott Despoja made some references to the government's proposed training wage under the MAATS proposal. I can assure senators in relation to the proposed industrial relation arrangements the government's take-home pay commitment is rock solid and will apply to trainees and apprentices. The existing award based apprenticeship and traineeship arrangements will continue. Employers can continue to choose to access them if they so wish. That includes the national training wage.

Under the proposed Australian workplace agreements, the amount of time spent in training will determine the amount of time for which the trainee is paid. That rate of pay will be the rate set out in the relevant award. The principle of paying trainees and apprentices for the time they spend in productive work is a sound one. In fact, Labor's national training wage is based on the principle that time spent in training is not paid for.

Senator Carr had some additional comments with respect to apprenticeship and traineeship numbers. He claimed that under Labor there was massive growth in apprenticeship numbers. While it is true that apprenticeship commencements increased in the 1980s, that is not the whole story because they then declined markedly in the early 1990s and have only recently increased again. In 1984-85 there were just under 50,000 apprenticeship commencements. In 1994-95, 10 years later, there were still just under 50,000 apprenticeship commencements.

The government is committed to expanding opportunities for apprenticeship and traineeship arrangements, but increased flexibility and delivery arrangements to make sure that the training provided is relevant to workplace needs is essential. Employers can continue to choose existing apprenticeships and traineeships but they should also be able to take the opportunity for other models of work based training.

The government and many sectors of industry value highly the traditional apprenticeship model, but there is no need to be absolutely bound by it. We need to provide maximum variety and flexibility in training delivery to meet the needs of emerging industries and industries where the structured training effort has traditionally been quite low—the very areas where the training guarantee did not have significant impact.

Senator Margetts, in her contribution, indicated that she opposed the abolition of the training guarantee. I think there is probably some agreement with respect to the government and opposition. The opposition introduced this when they were in government. We said it would not be as effective as they hoped it would be. The fact they abandoned it indicated that we were right in concluding that at the time. In conclusion, I thank sena tors for their sensible contributions they have made, albeit I have not necessarily agreed with all of them.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.