On 6 December 2017, the Senate referred the following matter to the Education and Employment References Committee (the committee) for inquiry and report by 28 February 2018:
(a) the failures in TAFE SA that have resulted in suspension of courses, as well as quality issues with the provision of training;
(b) the effective use by the South Australian Labor Government of $771 million provided over six years from the Federal Government to support vocational education and training in South Australia;
(c) the impact of the South Australian Government’s $91 million in funding cuts over five years on students, industry and the broader community;
(d) the role and impact of the scrapped Skills for All policy, and its replacement WorkReady policy;
(e) the impact and frequency of changes made by the South Australian Government to their Training Subsidy List;
(f) the adequacy of the oversight of TAFE SA by its leadership, board and the South Australian Government, as well as national regulatory oversight by the Australian Skills Quality Authority and other agencies; and
(g) any other relevant matters.
At the outset, the committee rejects the need for and rationale behind this inquiry. It is an unnecessary political exercise and a blatant attempt by the Coalition Government to damage the South Australian Labor Government. Evidence received during the inquiry clearly demonstrates that the current situation with TAFE SA is not an extraordinary, isolated incident, but is instead symptomatic of the deeper problems afflicting the Australian vocational education and training (VET) sector.