The Minister for Vocational Education and Skills again this morning continued the two years of ignorance, blame-shifting and blustering on the Abbott/Turnbull Liberals' VET FEE- HELP crisis.
This morning on Background Briefingon ABC Radio National the Minister claimed he should be absolved of any responsibility for this waste of taxpayers’ money because he is such a novice:
“I’ve only been the Minister for seven weeks”
Background Briefing - ABC Radio National 10 April 2016
This pleading of ignorance seems to be the norm when it comes to the Liberals, who over the past two years have gone through four Ministers and overseen an explosion of VET FEE-HELP loans from $699 million in 2013 to $1.7 billion in 2014, with predictions that the scheme blew out to over $3 billion for 2015.
The Minister showed just how inexperienced he is when he couldn’t answer the ABC’s questions and decided to shut the interview down in dramatic style.
What is abundantly clear is that Abbott/Turnbull Liberals have been asleep at the wheel on vocational education with private providers stating this morning that they warned the Government when the growth exploded:
“Labor presided over some of the growth but it really grew under the Liberals and it grew after the time that I’d been making these statements to the Department and the Minister about what was going on out there.”
Ivan Brown, CEO ACN - Background Briefing - ABC Radio National 10 April 2016
If the Minister is actually serious about fixing the gross mismanagement of VET FEE-HELP, he actually needs to start speaking with students, unions and other community representatives who can help in ending the Liberals’ VET crisis.
But instead the Liberals' secret closed door consultations continue this week.
Who will be in attendance remains a mystery, as the Minister’s release doesn’t give any details or provide links. Even the Department’s own “VET FEE-HELP Reform” website doesn’t list any details for consultation sessions.
While the Minister is talking to secret stakeholders, Labor has put forward strong, sensible policies to fix the Liberals’ mess, but they have just been ignored. The measures include:
A VET Ombudsman
A cap on course fees
A lower cap on VET FEE-HELP loans
A ban or restriction on the use of brokers
Ensuring loan applications for students would be handled by the Department of Education and Training rather than a private college or broker
Labor has also announced a full, evidence based review of the vocational education and training system and a National Priority Plan for TAFE including a TAFE guarantee which places it squarely as the public provider within the VET sector and ensures TAFE’s viability and strength into the future.
Senator Ryan needs to start acting like a Minister, and get serious about fixing the Liberals’ mess and stopping taxpayer funds going to shonks and sharks. This won’t happen if secret consultation sessions are held behind closed doors.
The Minister must listen to students, parents, unions and other community representatives if they want to fix the mess that they have allowed to continue for two years.