Labor's leader and education spokespeople should be blushing with embarrassment at their responses to today's reforms preventing unscrupulous marketers from targeting vulnerable Australians and exploiting taxpayers to the tune of billions of dollars.
Assistant Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham said that while Labor had been responsible for the significant expansion of the VET FEE-HELP scheme in 2012, it had failed to introduce a dedicated compliance regime for the scheme, failed to deliver appropriate national standards for registered training organisations, failed to properly fund the regulator and failed to protect students and taxpayers from dodgy providers.
“Not only did Labor set this system up in a manner so open to abuse but the national regulator, the Australian Skills and Quality Authority (ASQA), received its first complaint about VET FEE-HELP abuse in February 2013, yet Labor still failed to take any action for the remainder of its term in government.
“The hypocrisy of Labor to complain is absurd. Labor is like an arsonist on the issue of VET FEE-HELP. Having lit the fire they are now crying for the fire brigade to come and put it out, while pretending that they had nothing to do with it.
“Labor’s inaction in the VET sector has most likely cost students, employers, and taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars for skills training that failed to deliver real outcomes.
“In contrast, the Coalition Government has already taken action to introduce tough new standards for registered training organisations, and has provided $68 million over four years to bolster the capacity of ASQA to enforce these stronger standards. We have also established a national complaints hotline (13 38 73), to make it easier for complaints to be heard and actioned.
“Today's reforms, including the ban on sign-up inducements like free I-pads, ending of miraculously short courses and requirements for minimum educational pre-requisites, will save taxpayers an estimated $16 billion that would otherwise have been lost under Labor's regulatory model.
“Our reforms, including better standards and better data, mean we can ensure the VET system, and substantial taxpayer funding, are focused where they should be, on delivering the skills students and employers need to get the jobs that will boost Australia’s competitiveness and productivity,” Senator Birmingham said.