Greens fight proposal for the future of TAFE
POLITICIANS LOBBY AGAINST PRIVATISATION
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.
John Kaye and Lee Rhiannon are protesting against cuts at TAFE Mt Druitt.