Minister decides to take a break despite TAFE crisis
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not yet clear what the consequences for the almost 2500 students enrolled in affected courses would be if accreditation was revoked.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.