GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO COME CLEAN ABOUT THE SKILLING AUSTRALIANS FUND

24 Aug 2017

The Turnbull government needs to come clean about funding for the Skilling Australians Fund.

SENATOR THE HON DOUG CAMERON

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR SKILLS AND APPRENTICESHIPS
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES  

Government needs to come clean about the Skilling Australians Fund

The Turnbull government needs to come clean about funding for the Skilling Australians Fund.

In the May Budget it was revealed that the government’s Fund would rely on revenue raised from foreign worker visa fees, claiming it would deliver 300,000 additional apprenticeships and traineeships over the next four years.

Under Senate Estimates questioning the relevant Departments have refused to explain how the visa levy would raise $1.2 billion over the forward estimates.

The Treasury suggested asking the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Department of Education.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection passed the buck back to Treasury and on to the Department of Education and Training.

The Department of Education and Minister Simon Birmingham passed it back again to Immigration and Border Protection and Treasury.

In writing the Department of Immigration and Border Protection have refused to answer, stating that the modelling and assumptions used,

“…could potentially reveal deliberations of the Cabinet, which are confidential.” (Budget Estimates 2017-2018 Immigration and Border Protection Portfolio BE17/297)

So far the Department of Education has failed to respond to written questions – instead they have been sitting on them for more than 2.5 months, making them 7 weeks overdue.

Meanwhile evidence is mounting that the Skilling Australians Fund is a mirage.

Independent analysis has established that the Fund is ‘inherently flawed’, raising serious doubt over the sums as well as the claims that it will lead to the employment of 300,000 more apprentices and trainees.

Research is showing that foreign worker visa numbers are likely to plummet.

Assistant Minster Karen Andrews needs to be transparent about the methodology used to calculate the 300,000 additional apprentices and trainees.

She needs to be candid about the number of foreign visa workers that will be needed to raise the revenue for the Skilling Australia fund and how many local jobs will be displaced.

Skilling the workforce is too serious a matter to play games with.

THURSDAY, 24 AUGUST 2017