Sep 15, 2003

Australian National Training Authority Amendment Bill 2003: Consideration of Sen


15 September 2003

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (6.28 p.m.) —I, too, rise to support the amendment that has been made in the Senate, which will ensure not only that any new ANTA agreement and any amendment to the agreement would come before the House within 15 sitting days of the agreement being made between the Commonwealth, states and territories but also that it is published on the Internet. We considered the Australian National Training Authority Amendment Bill 2003 in conjunction with the VET funding bill. While the Minister for Education, Science and Training is in a conciliatory mood and supporting this Senate amendment, he will have an opportunity to also support the position taken by the Australian Labor Party on what should happen to the Australian National Training Authority—that is, there is a need in the new agreement for growth funding.

If the minister is going to have credibility in coming into this House and criticising state and territory governments for ensuring that their books are balanced, then he needs to be part of a cooperative approach between the Commonwealth, states and territories in negotiating the new ANTA agreement. He will have an opportunity at the Gold Coast MINCO meeting in a couple of months to put his money where his mouth is. Before going to dinner at Jupiters Casino, the minister will have an opportunity to roll the dice in favour of young Australians—and in favour also of mature age Australians, who are participating more and more in the vocational education and training sector.

This is an extremely important sector of the economy. It is important for individuals who participate in vocational education and training in schools, in TAFEs and through group training organisations and other parts of the sector in that it enables them to fully participate in society and realise the positive benefits that education and training give, and it is also important for us as a nation and as an economy. The expansion of vocational education and training benefits our economy and means that we can move forward as a high-wage, high-skills economy. The alternative is competing with our neighbours in a race to the bottom. Some would like to see their approach to labour market deregulation produce that result.

I commend the fact that the minister has been conciliatory in accepting the amendment from that dreaded place across the other side and that we can all agree on this Senate amendment. However, I call upon the minister to have the same enlightened approach towards negotiating the ANTA agreement if his rhetoric is to become more than just that and is to result in the states and territories delivering an expanded service. More and more we see the dollars per student simply becoming fewer and fewer due to pressure on the system, which is why we need growth funding in the new ANTA agreement. I commend the bill to the House. I also take the opportunity to commend all those from the top down—from the ANTA board, which will see an expansion due to this bill, to all the TAFE teachers throughout Australia—who work beyond the call of duty and do many hours of unpaid work due to their commitment to deliver services for Australians.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. D.G.H. Adams)—The question is that the amendment be agreed to.

Question agreed to.