Campaign plays role in record swing

Kathy Nicholson and Rob Long
TAFE Organisers

The O’Farrell Government should take note of the 27 per cent swing against the Liberal Party in the Miranda by-election and start listening to local communities’ opposition to privatisation and public sector cuts, especially TAFE funding cuts.

ABC News reported ALP candidate Barry Collier won the October 19 by-election with a 27 per cent swing. The ABC put the victory largely down to “local factors and the return of the popular Mr Collier as Labor candidate”. Mr Collier was the MP for the seat 1999–2011.

Federation conducted a campaign in the electorate during the by-election to educate community members about the importance of a properly funded, affordable public TAFE system. The campaign alerted the community to the so-called Smart and Skilled ‘reforms’ that will effectively privatise TAFE, denying students opportunities for skills education and decent futures.

On October 19 by-election candidates Barry Collier and George Capsis (Christian Democrats) gathered outside Gymea TAFE with teachers and students to protest about TAFE cuts. NSW Greens education spokesperson John Kaye was passionate in his support of TAFE and shadow education minister Carmel Tebbutt was also in attendance.

Gymea TAFE has already suffered under the O’Farrell Government’s severe TAFE cuts. Already teachers of Ceramics and Hairdressing at Gymea College and Commercial Cookery at Loftus have lost their jobs. Now the HSC will be cut at Gymea and many part time casual teachers will lose all their work. Students are facing huge fee increases fees and lost opportunity as their courses disappear. More teachers are facing redundancy.

Teachers, students and community members are advised that they can register their support for TAFE at www.stoptafecuts.com.au.