Nov 25, 2003

Nelson threatens States over training funds


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 25 November 2003

Today in Question Time the Minister for Education and Training, Brendan Nelson, refused to withdraw the threat he made to the State and Territory Ministers over funding for the National Training Agreement 2004–2007.

During the ANTA Ministerial Council Meeting on the Gold Coast last Friday Minister Nelson threatened State and Territory Ministers that would withdraw millions of dollars of Federal funding if they did not sign the new Agreement within weeks.

To their credit State and Territory Ministers did not flinch and refused to be intimidated by such aggressive and offensive tactics.

The State and Territory Ministers are rightly refusing to accept the Commonwealth’s current offer. It contains no growth funds and would simply worsen the current skill shortage crisis.

Despite Minister Nelson’s announcement on Budget night that he would be offering the States and Territories an additional $218.7 million, he has offered them nothing.

The $218.7 million figure used by Minister Nelson includes funding previously announced as part of the Government’s Welfare Reform measures and three years of indexation.

The Federal Government is not providing one cent of growth funding.

This means that there is no funding offered to resource new enrolment growth that will occur during the life of the proposed Agreement.

Last year nearly 15,000 school leavers missed out on a TAFE place despite meeting all the entry requirements.

By contrast, a Crean Labor Government will create 20,000 new TAFE places.

Labor’s TAFE policy – Aim Higher: Learning, Training and Better Jobs for More Australians – will ensure all Australians get the training and education they need for a decent job.

The Minister must withdraw the threat he made last Friday and bargain in good faith to ensure the new ANTA agreement meets Australia’s future skill need.