Smart and Skilled opposed during by-elections

Robert Long
TAFE Organiser

Hunter voters show support for TAFE.

Hunter TAFE teachers organised a variety of Stop TAFE Cuts activities during the Newcastle and Charlestown by-election campaigns.

The by-election on October 25 was called due to the resignation of Liberal Members Tim Owen and Andrew Cornwell.

Members held media events with Opposition Leader John Robertson, Greens education spokesperson John Kaye and addressed a Greens political forum with Senator Scott Ludlam.

Federation activists signed up hundreds of people to the Stop TAFE Cuts campaign at a variety of community activities, local markets and railway station sessions.

Hunter TAFE members are facing another round of voluntary redundancies for teachers and support staff.

Hunter TAFE teachers of Industry and Natural Resources, Adult Basic Education and Business Administration faculties are currently facing the possibility of losing their jobs before the end of the year.

The decision of the NSW Government to introduce the Smart and Skilled policy is causing Hunter TAFE management to increase student fees, reduce permanent staff levels and cut course delivery.

Federation wrote to Education Minister Adrian Piccoli calling for a halt to any current change management plans that would lead to Federation members facing redundancy. He responded through TAFE Managing Director Pam Christie that redundancies would continue.

Teachers believe that the Liberal Party's failure to stand candidates for the by-elections in the seats of Newcastle and Charlestown; the move to the crossbenches of government members in the seats of Swansea, Terrigal, The Entrance and Wyong; and the resignation of MLC Michael Gallacher as Minister for Central Coast and Hunter has limited the ability of Hunter TAFE teachers to influence government policies.

The lack of integrity in government laid bare by anti-corruption investigations has further undermined the confidence of TAFE teachers in Smart and Skilled.

TAFE will be a critical issue during the March 2015 state election.