MONDAY, 27 JUNE 2016



TOM TILLEY, HOST: Well let’s see what Labor has to offer in this space, we have Labor’s Higher Education Spokesperson, Senator Kim Carr in the studio, Kim Carr thank you so much for joining us.  


TILLEY: We will get to unis in a moment but first, you heard those stories of people being ripped off in the vocational sector does Labor accept part of the responsibility for what’s happened there, given your party opened up loans for students enrolling in private colleges in 2012?

CARR:  The Government was asleep at the wheel throughout this period, the amount of loans being offered doubled by 100 percent in 2014, the information wasn’t event translated between the Education Department and the regulator, when I said that ‘the regulator couldn’t even track a bleeding elephant through snow’ I meant it, because it is quite clear that’s what was happening.  The Government had a policy of deregulation of universities and what was happening in the VET system was an embarrassment to them, they didn’t want to crack down on these colleges, they didn’t want to stop the rorting,

TILLEY:  But you offered loans to students studying at these private colleges which were essentially deregulated.

CARR:  We made the point that there are two strong regulators, there were powers within existing legislation for the Government to take action when they realised that things were going off the rails, it is up to the Government to act, the Government was asleep at the wheel. This extraordinary waste was allowed to occur under this Governments watch, no good trying to blame your predecessors, this is about the Government failure here and their policy was about deregulation they want to ‘let it rip’ and this is the consequence.

TILLEY: Alright it is also about understanding what exactly went wrong and part of Labor’s response is to propose an $8,000 annual cap on VET FEE-HELP for people studying at these courses, now TAFE Directors Australia Chief Executive Martin Riordan says that this seems to be a completely random figure.

CARR: Well he is wrong.

TILLEY: Some TAFE courses cost more than that, why did you pick $8,000 and why do you think it will help?

CARR: We consulted widely on the issue including with the TAFE directors, what we know is that most TAFE courses are below that amount, if there are genuinely high cost courses above that amount we will give them an exemption.  What we do know is that if you don’t turn off the tap to these rorters they are going to continue to rip off the public system, rip off Australians and rip off people who desperately need the training. This is a scheme that is distorted the entire vocational education system and undermined its authority and public credibility, it has to be shut down and prevented from being used in this way.

TILLEY: Apart for the $8,000 annual cap that you would allow students to borrow to study at these institutions what else is Labor offering in this space?

CARR: We want to re-regulate the whole system and want to ensure that all of the providers were able to be re-licensed, we want to be able to provide proper checks so that we can ensure that quality vocational education is actually provided and not some scam to be able to provide bloated profits for people on the stock exchange.

TILLEY: Alright you’re listening to Kim Carr who is Labor’s spokesperson on Education, we have talked there about the vocational sector which is a shambles, even Malcolm Turnbull described it as such. Let’s talk university education Kim Carr, since 2009 when Labor was in power the funding of university students from the Government has grown at twice the rate of the economy, is that sustainable? And are you going to advocate for the status quo in the rest of the public picking up the bill or do we need to change system?

CARR:  It is sustainable and that is why we are providing support for a funding guarantee for students to ensure that we can deliver $2,500 more per student than what the Liberals are offering.

TILLEY:  How are you going to pay for that?

CARR:  Well we have indicated a whole series of priorities - this is about government making choices - we have cut back on a whole heap of areas to make sure that we have the money to be able to provide what is the basic and most important aspect of public policy that is the provision of high quality education, we know how important education is to the future of individuals and how important it is to the future of the economy.  The Government has a responsibility to pay its bills, now Michael Spence when he was just providing all that advice to you failed to mention that the Government cuts in the current budget to the University of Sydney is $314 million, any proposal that the Government has for the deregulation of fees would mean that the University of Sydney would have to charge extra just to make up for the cuts let alone trying to find the money to do the extra things that it wants to do.

TILLEY: Kim Carr great to have you on the show, thanks so much for joining us.

CARR: Thank you.       

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