Greens fight pro­posal for the fu­ture of TAFE

POLITI­CIANS LOBBY AGAINST PRI­VATI­SA­TION

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Ali­son Bald­ing

FEARS fund­ing changes to TAFE could force the Mt Druitt cam­pus to close has led protesters to its doors.

Greens fed­eral Sen­a­tor Lee Rhi­an­non and Greens MP John Kaye joined stu­dents and teach­ers at the site on Fri­day to call on lo­cal, state and fed­eral MPs to stop the push to pri­va­tise TAFE.

But NSW Re­gional De­vel­op­ment, Skills and Small Busi­ness Min­is­ter John Bar­i­laro dis­missed the call as a “fear and smear cam­paign”.

Dr Kaye said the fund­ing re­forms were dec­i­mat­ing TAFE in Western Syd­ney.

He said more than $600 mil­lion will be taken from TAFE’s guar­an­teed bud­get.

“More than a thou­sand teach­ers and sup­port staff have lost their jobs with hun­dreds more at risk in Western Syd­ney alone,” Mr Kaye said.

Stu­dent David Bate, who ran as the greens can­di­date for Black­town in the re­cent state elec­tion, said he en­rolled in a course at TAFE only to find it is now only de- liv­ered online. A spokesman from Mr Bar­i­laro’s of­fice said claims the Mt Druitt cam­pus, or any TAFE cam­pus, was on the verge of clo­sure was “sim­ply not true”.

“We have brought TAFE and VET into a new agency fo­cused on jobs and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment to tar­get the jobs of the fu­ture,” the spokesman said.

“I don’t know where they are get­ting the fig­ure of $600 mil­lion from. I have seen what’s in the bud­get, and while I can’t com­ment on the de­tails, I can say it is good news.”

A Mt Druitt TAFE teacher, who did not wish to be named, said stu­dents had to fork out $1000 up­front or go on a pay­ment plan be­fore step­ping into a class­room.

“Some qual­ify for ex­emp­tions but that can take three to four weeks to clear, and we aren’t meant to bring them in un­til it has cleared,” the teacher said.

“For some around here, it just makes it im­pos­si­ble.

“If this cam­pus (Mt Druitt) closes, the bot­tom line is we are go­ing to lose a lot of ex­pe­ri­enced teach­ers.”

Ms Rhi­an­non said the Se­nate In­quiry into vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion had high­lighted TAFE’s crit­i­cal role.

“Pri­vati­sa­tion poli­cies are driv­ing TAFE to the brink and with­out a change of di­rec­tion there is ev­ery chance the next gen­er­a­tion will be cut out of the op­por­tu­ni­ties that we have all taken for granted,” she said.

Pic­ture: JUSTIN SANSON

John Kaye and Lee Rhi­an­non are protest­ing against cuts at TAFE Mt Druitt.

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