My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Training and Skills in the other place, and the action I seek is an urgent review of the departmental procedures relating to the distribution of information to registered training organisations (RTOs). Last week I met with a training provider who has no government funding and who is looking to close their business because they have been hampered by bureaucratic bungles. The training provider was told they would not qualify for funding because they do not deliver programs. When the business asked for a definition of ‘program’, they received advice from the Department of Education and Training. They then went about ensuring they could meet that definition, spending considerable time and money to ensure that they could meet the definition that had been provided as well as improve their course offering to attract more students with specialised equipment and facilities.
Some five months later they received another email saying the advice they had been given previously by the department was incorrect and that a new definition of ‘program’ would be sent to them shortly. As such the company has since withdrawn its application and is unsure if it will continue. This will equate to the loss of jobs in my electorate, which also happens to be in the minister’s region, and will limit the number of places available for courses such as the certificate II in rail infrastructure, a qualification needed in our state.
Is this a case of the goalposts being moved to create a training monopoly to boost declining numbers at TAFEs, or is it that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing because there are too many bureaucrats? This government has been hell-bent on tracking down dodgy and corrupt RTOs, and rightly so, but it is my fear that they have tarred everyone with the same brush and now every RTO is being viewed as dodgy. There are many RTOs that provide high-quality and valuable qualifications to people to help them get back into the workforce or improve their skill set. I would have thought a government that says it is committed to building an education state would be trying to have as many people qualified as possible, but that is not the case. It is hardworking small business people who are suffering because of this government’s unfair and unbalanced playing field.