The Australian 20 March 2012
Western Australia says it will reject proposed vocational training reforms, declaring the Commonwealth is reducing funds for the states and territories while forcing new conditions on them. West Australian Training Minister Peter Collier has accused the Commonwealth of “blackmail”, saying it is putting arduous conditions on a “manifestly inadequate” funding model which would “shortchange” WA by about $75 million over the next three years, compared with current funding arrangements. The Victorian government said the Commonwealth seems to be seeking “more reform for less money”. Victoria received $120 million in 2011-12 from the Commonwealth under the Productivity Places Program but under the proposed National Partnership Victoria is being offered just $60 million in 2012-13. But the Commonwealth minister says states aren’t taking account of $1.8bn in extra funds allocated separately from the commonwealth-state skills funding agreement which includes $630m in a new industry-driven fund, $320m for foundation programs, $200m for apprenticeships and $660m in capital works. ”Claims about reduction of funding are just not right,” according to Senator Evans. The objection to “arduous conditions” is difficult to follow as most of the proposals have been announced at least once before. The income-contingent loans, national entitlement and My Skills website were all announced in the May 2010 budget and reannounced last October. The $1.75bn incentive funding was announced in last year’s budget, while COAG agreed in principle to a unique student identifier in December 2009. Only the “validation” system appears new, and the government has committed only to pilot it. The Commonwealth has indicated if agreement isn’t reached at COAG, it may allocate additional funding through industry bodoies rather than through the states.