Min­is­ter de­cides to take a break de­spite TAFE cri­sis

The Advertiser - - NEWS - LAU­REN NO­VAK PO­LIT­I­CAL RE­PORTER SATUR­DAY SEPTEM­BER 30 2017 AD­VER­TISER.COM.AU

THE Min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for TAFE SA will be on leave for two weeks while the or­gan­i­sa­tion fights to keep its ac­cred­i­ta­tion for 16 cour­ses.

The Op­po­si­tion is call­ing on Su­san Close, right, to re­main at work to en­sure the train­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion lifts its stan­dards.

How­ever, the Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter has dis­missed the call as “des­per­ate” and says she is stay­ing in Ade­laide for the break over the school hol­i­days and will re­ceive reg­u­lar up­dates.

The na­tional reg­u­la­tor warned TAFE SA on Mon­day that it could lose ac­cred­i­ta­tion for 16 cour­ses, cov­er­ing sec­tors in­clud­ing health, build­ing, plumb­ing and au­to­mo­tive.

It is not yet clear what the con­se­quences for the al­most 2500 stu­dents en­rolled in af­fected cour­ses would be if ac­cred­i­ta­tion was re­voked. TAFE SA has been given un­til the end of Oc­to­ber to re­spond. Dr Close is tak­ing an­nual leave from to­mor­row un­til Oc­to­ber 15. En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Ian Hunter will cover for her.

Dr Close said she had ap­pointed an in­de­pen­dent re­viewer to ex­am­ine TAFE SA’s au­dit­ing pro­cesses and a new task­force would pro­vide her with weekly up­dates.

“The state’s des­per­ate Op- po­si­tion will say any­thing to de­tract from the fact it has no new poli­cies,” she said.

Op­po­si­tion ed­u­ca­tion spokesman John Gard­ner said tak­ing leave now “calls into ques­tion how se­ri­ously” Dr Close was treat­ing prob­lems iden­ti­fied at TAFE SA.

It emerged on Thurs­day that TAFE SA chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Robin Murt was paid a $48,000 per­for­mance bonus in 2015-16.

Mr Gard­ner called on Dr Close to rule out any bonus pay for Mr Murt for 2016-17 “whilst this ac­cred­i­ta­tion mess is be­ing worked through”.

“The peo­ple of South Aus­tralia, and es­pe­cially the 2500 stu­dents who may be af­fected as they pre­pare them­selves for their ca­reers, de­serve a gov­ern­ment that is open with the peo­ple of SA and fo­cused on fix­ing the mess,” he said.

Dr Close said the TAFE SA board de­ter­mined bonus pay.

“I had a dis­cus­sion with the chair (of the board) and he is ab­so­lutely clear that the de­ci­sion is yet to be made and all fac­tors will be taken into ac­count,” she said.

“The board will be strong on this and the chair has al­ready met with the chief ex­ec­u­tive and we’ll be shortly meet­ing with all of the next level down, to make sure it’s very clear that we take this very, very se­ri­ously.”

Greens train­ing spokes­woman Tammy Franks urged the Gov­ern­ment to es­tab­lish a vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing ombudsman’s of­fice to ad­vise stu­dents and staff.

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