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Statement on technical colleges

Senator MILNE (Tasmania) (3:56 PM) -I seek leave to make a short statement relating to Senator Barnett's motion which has just been passed.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT -Leave is granted for two minutes.

Senator MILNE -The Australian Greens did not support the Howard government's establishment of these colleges because we believed at the time that it was a politically motivated decision, that the colleges would duplicate services already provided by existing institutions-the TAFE colleges in particular-and that the establishment of the colleges was part of the attack on the union movement. However, these colleges have been established. They are very well funded in comparison with similar colleges offering similar services and that disproportionate funding is inequitable.

Having said that, the Bartlett Labor government in Tasmania has made a complete and utter mess of the transitional arrangements to this new system of the academy and polytechnics and so on. There is no clear transitional arrangement for the 270 students and 35 staff in the Australian Technical College Northern Tasmania with its two campuses that we are discussing here today. There are no satisfactory transitional arrangements. There is no guarantee on staffing. We do note that the Bartlett government has now said that it will do everything it can to make sure that the colleges do not fail, and I am glad to hear that that is the case. So we are supporting this on the basis that those students and staff have proper transitional arrangements and that equivalent certification can be achieved as this process is worked through.

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