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Minister Fires Statutory Board

Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board

Wednesday 12 July 2006

Minister Fires Statutory Board

The members of the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board (“the Board”) have hit back at the findings of a ministerial review into relationships between the Board and its Industry Training Organisation (ITO).

The Minister for Tertiary Education, Hon Dr Michael Cullen, has announced that he is replacing the entire Board as of today (July 12).

Board chairman, Terry Wynyard, said the review blames the Board for setting too high a standard for plumbing and gasfitting examinations resulting in an industry shortage.

“The Board is responsible for public safety and the report fails to address the abject failure of the National Certificate which resulted in the Board reintroducing examinations in the first place,” Mr Wynyard said. “The fact that students had a high failure rate is evidence in itself. We had to remedy that in the interests of public safety. There was no way the Board could gerrymander pass rates when the ITO’s unit standards were substandard.”

Mr Wynyard said that the examinations the Board set were endorsed by the training providers and the fact that more and more students were undertaking their training directly with polytechnics speaks for itself.

“The Government knows that it is more expensive to train students directly through polytechnics and that this is outside the scope of the ITO,” he said. “The fact an increasing number of students were choosing polytechnic training tells us that they too knew the ITO training was not up to scratch.

“To blame the Board for the failure of an ITO is grossly unfair on the members of the Board. When the Board was appointed we inherited an industry highly critical of the performance of the ITO and the standard of training it was administering for the trade and the public,” he said.

Mr Wynyard said the Board identified the Australian Training Package and then worked with the ITO to investigate the introduction of it as a way forward and it was only when the ITO realised this could affect its funding stream, the ITO reversed its support of the Package.

“The fact that the review recommends the introduction of the Australian Training Package speaks for itself,” Mr Wynyard said. “It is the best solution and will improve and consolidate industry training standards.”

Mr Wynyard said he was pleased the Government is reviewing the Plumbers Drainlayers and Gasfitters Act to clarify where responsibilities lie in the interests of public safety.

“This report blames the Board and sheets no responsibility back to the ITO for its failure to improve standards of training for plumbers, drainlayers and gasfitters,” he said. “The report is grossly unfair.”


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