Today the Turnbull Liberal Government has refused to adopt strong, common sense measures to protect vulnerable students from shonky training colleges by voting down amendments that would have provided additional protections for students and the taxpayer.
Labor’s amendments included provisions to establish an industry funded Ombudsman which has been called for by many stakeholders and would finally give an avenue for complaints to students.
The Government also opposed Labor's calls for the Australian National Audit Office to lift the priority of the audit into the VET FEE-HELP program.
The Liberals have voted down Labor’s amendment in detail which requires a legislated student debt opt-in process to protect them from high pressure sales tactics. The student would correspond directly with the Department of Education when signing up for a VET FEE-HELP loan.
Instead, they are proposing a weaker version which Labor fears may not address the high pressure sales tactics being used to directly sign students up to debts.
This is yet another example of this government pursuing measures that are too little, and too late.
Tonight the Turnbull Liberal Government has stubbornly refused to adopt three strong, common sense amendments to protect students and crack down on shonky providers.
New data - released yesterday by NCVER - shows that 3.9 million Australians are involved in vocational education and training sector, but hides the fact that some of these students are vulnerable people who have been enrolled in training courses inappropriate to their needs, of deplorable quality or don’t even know they had enrolled in a training course at all.
Over two years and three different Ministers, the Abbott/Turnbull Government has tinkered around the edges while VET FEE-HELP loans have skyrocketed from $699 million in 2013 to $1.7 billion in 2014.
The Turnbull Liberal Government had the opportunity to be a grown up Government and stop the shonks, but instead they have chosen to put their heads in the sand and voted down these measures.
The price of their stubbornness will mean that the cost will continue to be borne by individual students, Australian taxpayers and the economy.