Member for Wagga Daryl Maguire and Labor spokesman Daniel Mookhey trade blows over Smart and Skilled

Labor spokesman for Wagga, Daniel Mookhey MLC. Picture: Supplied
Labor spokesman for Wagga, Daniel Mookhey MLC. Picture: Supplied

Wagga residents dudded by dodgy training providers have become the subject of a heated debate political debate.

NSW Labor claimed at least 83 Wagga students were affected by “shonky” education providers in the ‘Smart and Skilled’ program. Spokesman Daniel Mookhey said the government “should apologise for creating a private vocational education system riddled with fraud and abuse”.

The Smart and Skilled program, established under former Education Minister (and Griffith native) Adrian Piccoli, offers taxpayer subsidies to private vocational education providers offering certificates and diplomas in various trades and skills. Labor has long opposed the program, claiming it came at the expense of TAFE courses.

“By closing TAFE campuses, hiking course fees and slashing support staff, the Liberal-Nationals’ message to Wagga job-seekers is you’re on your own,” Mr Mookhey said. “This government continues to back a private training market riddled with fraud and abuse.”

Member for Wagga Daryl Maguire hit out at the claims, saying the government published details of education providers that had been suspended.

“Our quality checks are already some of the toughest in the country and we make no excuses for putting providers who need to work harder to meet our quality standards on notice with a suspension – or for terminating contracts if providers fail to meet those standards,” he said. “There are more than 3000 private training providers in NSW and only around 400 meet the quality standards (Smart and Skilled) requires.”

Mr Maguire said Labor “had got it wrong again” on the program.

“Not one student is left in limbo if a Smart and Skilled provider has their contract terminated,” Mr Magurie said. “Training Services NSW helps students to complete their training and complete their qualifications working directly with students to support them with the tools and resources they need to find alternative Smart and Skilled providers. The government has zero tolerance for training providers who deliver poor quality, do not practice strong ethics, or who are not responsive and accountable.”

The exact number of Wagga students affected is unclear, but many were believed to have been enrolled in Certificate III Hospitality courses.

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