Blunt warning to Upper House on TAFE

Maxine Sharkey
Assistant General Secretary (Post Schools Education)

If the TAFE Changes Moratorium bill is not passed and the Smart and Skilled policy is introduced in January 2015, TAFE will not survive competition with low cost, low quality private providers, NSW Greens MLC John Kaye warned on March 20.

He was giving his second reading speech for his TAFE Changes Moratorium (Secure Future for Public Provision of Vocational Education and Training) Bill in the Upper House.

“Almost four hundred positions were lost from TAFE in NSW last year. Institute managers have been cutting costs to slim down their colleges in preparation for a training market that will strip TAFE of all of its core funding for its bread and butter courses,” he said.

“Courses and specialist services are being cut, including for students with disability.

“Across NSW the most vulnerable students are amongst the growing front-line of casualities of the O’Farrell Government’s attack on TAFE. They will be denied an education unless the O’Farrell Government changes direction.

“Labor has recognised that TAFE faces a crisis and has agreed to support the bill when it comes to a vote.

“We now need only the support of the Shooters and Fishers or the Christian Democrats to push this Bill through the Upper House and lay down the challenge to Education Minister Adrian Piccoli.

“In Opposition Mr Piccoli and his Coalition Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner both signed a pledge to guarantee TAFE funding, boost the numbers of permanent teachers, ensure affordable access for all students and ensure that TAFE jobs and courses are not contracted out to the private sector.

“Now they are in government, they are slashing TAFE’s budget by $800 million, removing hundreds of teachers and staff and drastically increasing fees. There is worse to come under Smart and Skilled.

“Mr Stoner has also publicly criticised the Greens for wanting to ‘waste’ taxpayers money on Fine Arts, and even equated the course with ‘basket-weaving’.”

Federation and Public Service Association members packed the NSW Legislative Council’s public gallery to hear the speech.