On 9 February, Daniel Andrews’ Minister for Training and Skills promised he would release a VET Funding Review interim report within 100 days.
It’s been 121 days since then and there is still no sign of the report.
After spending years calling for more certainty in the sector, Daniel Andrews has left training providers in a state of limbo.
Despite all their promises Daniel Andrews is not investing one additional dollar into skills training in Victoria. His Minister for Training and Skills has even admitted that Labor’s training budget is exactly the same as the former Coalition Government’s budget.
Shadow Minister for Training, Skills and Apprenticeships Steph Ryan said the Andrews Labor Government was all talk and no action on skills training.
“Daniel Andrews has repeatedly said he will honour ‘each and every one’ of his promises, yet here is another one broken.
“Here we go again - saying one thing before the election, doing another thing after it.
“Labor has not invested one extra dollar in skills training courses and now it has failed to meet its own time-frames for the vocational education and training review.
“Training providers deserve to know the government’s intentions, given the Minister plans to introduce these reforms before the start of the 2016 training year.
“Labor needs to end the talk-fest and start delivering for Victorian students.”
Victorian Shadow Minister for Sport Damian Drum has demanded the Andrews Labor Government release full details of major sporting funds which failed to get a mention in this year’s State Budget.
In Parliament Mr Drum, Nationals MP for Northern Victoria, asked the Treasurer Tim Pallas to explain what had happened to:
- $9.8 million yet to be spent in the Shooting Sports Facilities Program;
- Funding for the Country Football Netball Program; and
- $18 million which had been ear-marked for two major Bendigo sport projects, the Kangaroo Flat Aquatic Centre and the Bendigo Tennis Centre.
Mr Drum told Parliament that Labor Sport Minister John Eren had been embarrassed at a recent budget review meeting by not being able to show where the funds had been included in this year’s Budget.
“It will be welcome news to many sporting clubs that the Andrews Labor Government has now backflipped and decided to continue the Country Football Netball Program and the Shooting Sports Facilities Program after I raised these issues publicly,” Mr Drum said.
“These are important programs that support local sporting clubs and encourage greater participation in sport across the state.
“But I am still concerned about the long-term future of the programs, with the government refusing to say how long they will continue or where the money is coming from.”
The Andrews Labor Government has today shown how little it cares about country sport.
Sport Minister John Eren today told the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee that the government had provided $2 million in the 2015/16 State Budget to continue the Country Football and Netball Program.
Yet when asked where that funding was written in the State Budget, he was unable to point to any reference to the program on any page. It is not listed in the budget.
The Country Football Netball Program has provided support for local clubs to upgrade their facilities and therefore involve more people in sport. It funded more than 110 projects during the past four years.
The Coalition made an election commitment to provide another $8 million to continue the program for four more years, and ensure local clubs have better and safer facilities and equipment.
Labor failed to make any commitment.
Comments from Shadow Sport Minister Damian Drum:
“If the Andrews Labor Government values the Country Football Netball Program then they should fund it. Sports programs can’t run with imaginary funding.
“The fact that the government doesn’t even know what it has provided to country football and netball in the budget shows just how little it cares about regional Victorians.”
In a real shock to regional communities today Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford refused to commit the proceeds from the sale of the Rural Finance Corporation to regional Victorian infrastructure projects.
This was a promise that had been made by the previous Coalition Government.
The sale of the Rural Finance Corporation last year netted a profit of about $460 million, which was earmarked for re-investment in regional Victoria.
During the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) hearing for the regional development portfolio today, Ms Pulford refused to say whether that commitment would be honoured by the Andrews Labor Government.
$220 million from the proceeds has been committed to the Murray Basin Rail Project but it is not clear where the remainder of around $240 million will be spent.
Comments from Shadow Minister for Regional Development Damian Drum:
“Quite starkly, Ms Pulford would not answer the question following repeated requests by PAEC member and Nationals MP Danny O’Brien.
“Rural Finance Corporation was built on the success of our state’s farming sectors and regional communities rightly expect the money from its sale to be invested back into their communities – not into Melbourne-based projects, such as level crossing removals.
“Given only 2.9 per cent of the state’s major infrastructure projects have been promised outside of Melbourne, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that this money goes back into regional Victoria.
“Yet again we are seeing this government focused on political outcomes in Melbourne at the expense of rural and regional Victoria.”
Despite all his claims to “save” TAFEs and reopen campuses, Daniel Andrews doesn’t plan to attract a single additional student next year.
Shadow Minister for Training, Skills and Apprenticeships Steph Ryan said the 2015/16 State Budget estimated 443,687 students would be enrolled in government subsidised training next year (Budget Paper 3 p187) – the same number of students recorded in 2014.
Two months ago when releasing the 2014 Victorian Training Report, Minister Steve Herbert claimed that figure represented ‘a failure of our training system at exactly the time when our economy and people needed it the most’.
But yesterday in Question Time, he claimed ‘while numbers are one thing, training and quality are another’.
The Budget also reveals that Labor intends to cut almost 80,000 government subsidised places for young people – from 40 per cent last year down to 22.5 per cent in 2015/16 (BP3 p187).
Comments from Steph Ryan:
“Labor cares more about a political headline than delivering real outcomes for Victorian students,” Ms Ryan said.
“The former Labor government opened up the training market and forced TAFEs to compete with private providers, providing them no assistance to manage the transition.
“The Andrews Labor Government says it will spend $320 million ‘saving’ TAFEs but the government is not planning to enrol a single extra student next year.
“It is absolutely clear from its first State Budget that this government is about politics, not people.”
TAFE annual reports released this week demonstrate the legacy of failure of Labor’s training sector reforms.
Shadow Minister for Training, Skills and Apprenticeships Steph Ryan said that in 2008, Labor introduced an uncontrolled, fully contestable market which forced TAFEs to compete with private providers for students and funding.
“It is Labor’s training sector reforms dating from when Daniel Andrews was sitting around the cabinet table that are the number one cause of our TAFEs’ current financial situation,” Ms Ryan said.
“Labor failed to support TAFEs to ensure they could adapt to the new competitive environment it imposed upon them.
"It took a Coalition Government to deliver almost $250 million to help TAFEs with the transition.
"Andrews needs to support skills training - both public and private. Both have a right of place in the delivery of training courses.
"Coalition support helped thousands more people to secure skills training than under the last year of the previous Labor Government."
Ms Ryan said as well as the TAFE reforms, Labor introduced a botched ICT system in 2008 that had cost TAFEs $44.4 million in write-downs.
“Almost half of the operating deficit of TAFEs this year was the result of another bungled Labor ICT project,” Ms Ryan said.
“It's time Daniel Andrew stopped playing politics with TAFEs and focused on ensuring skills training that builds job opportunities for Victorians.”
Daniel Andrews is ripping off regional Victoria to prop up projects in Melbourne, Shadow Minister for Regional Development Damian Drum said today.
Mr Drum said the Andrews Labor Government’s Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund contained no additional money for regional Victoria.
He said it was a grab-bag of regional projects that should have been covered by general departmental budgets – like health, sport and education.
“Today’s announcement from Daniel Andrews is just more spin and no substance,” Mr Drum said.
“Daniel Andrews is using his regional fund to do the essentials, so that he has more money left in department budgets to prop up projects in Melbourne.
“Daniel Andrews is ripping off regional communities while he spends billions of dollars in Melbourne.”
The new member for Eastern Region, Melina Bath, was elected on Saturday by The Nationals, to fill the place vacated by Danny O’Brien, who successfully contested the Gippsland South By-election.
Ms Bath, a former small business owner and teacher, is currently co-coordinator of Mathematics at Mirboo North Secondary College and has a very strong commitment to advancing the opportunities for youth in the Eastern Region.
“We need to do a lot more to engage our youth and give them an opportunity to be heard in the political process”, said Ms Bath.
“I am making a strong commitment to engage with youth throughout the Eastern Region, and will be taking their concerns to Parliament, Ms Bath stated.
Ms Bath has an electorate that stretches from NSW border to the Mornington Peninsula and said she would be keeping her office in Traralgon.
“Over many years Traralgon has proved to be a good central location and well received by constituents. This is a very large electorate and I intend to be working throughout Gippsland and the Mornington Peninsula”, she said.
“As a National, I will be out and about talking with people in their communities throughout Eastern Victoria, and I am looking forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that Gippsland’s voice is heard and listened to in Melbourne”, said Ms Bath.
The strongly contested pre-selection was held in Traralgon on Saturday.
State Director for The Nationals, Jenny Hammett, said Ms Bath would take up the position when the Parliament sits again in April.
"Daniel Andrews seems to have forgotten it was the former Labor Government that opened up the skills training sector to competition and forced TAFEs to compete with private providers. (Page 7, Labor's 2008 Skills plan).
"That decision by Labor has seen private training providers now account for 56 per cent of total government subsidised enrolments while TAFEs account for 25 per cent. (Page 36, Victorian Training Market Report 2014).
"The Coalition was funding $1.2 billion a year in vocational education training - compared with just over $800 million in the former Labor government's last budget - meaning the Coalition increased funding for skills training by 50 per cent.
"Daniel Andrews needs some skills training on telling the truth."
It is illogical that Daniel Andrews is undertaking a costly review of Regional Development Victoria while at the same time slashing funding for regional Victoria itself.
The Andrews Labor Government has appointed a panel, headed by former Labor State Premier John Brumby, to review regional development.
In fact, Regional Development Victoria (RDV) remains an efficient link between all levels of government, the business sector and our communities, and has a track record of delivering fantastic outcomes for regional Victoria.
We don’t know how much this RDV review is going to cost, or what will happen to regional investment programs in the meantime. There is a fear it will put the regional investment on hold completely.
Meanwhile, Premier Andrews is cutting the hugely popular $1 billion Regional Growth Fund, which provided funding to communities for their priority projects such as upgrading recreational facilities, parks and CBDs.
The fund secured $3 worth of investment for every $1 contributed by government and created almost 23,000 jobs right across regional and rural Victoria.
Premier Andrews is also cutting the Country Roads and Bridges Program, which provided $40 million a year to local councils so they could fix their priority roads.
Without this vital funding, those councils must either find that money within their budgets by sacrificing other community programs, or simply abandon local road maintenance projects.
It beggars belief that Daniel Andrews would cut funding for these programs while wasting money on an expensive review of RDV.
If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
Instead of media stunts and endless panels and reviews, the city-centric Andrews Labor Government must step up and actually deliver something for regional Victorians.