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Byron Shire
May 6, 2021

TAFE cuts slammed as Greens promise $1 billion

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Tafe organiser Kathy Nicholson with Greens MP Dr John Kaye and Lismore candidate Adam Guise, as well as teachers and students from the campus. (Darren Coyne)

TAFE teachers and students joined Greens NSW MP John Kaye and Lismore candidate Adam Guise outside Lismore TAFE today to talk about how the Greens’ new plan to Fund TAFE First would benefit communities in the Northern Rivers region.

Dr Kaye said Fund TAFE First aimed to increase TAFE’s secure budget by almost $1 billion a year and we have identified sources for the money.

‘We would stop any public money flowing to private providers for a course that TAFE does or could provide.

‘Next financial year, this would secure $600 million for TAFE, allowing it to restore all of the 1,100 teaching and support positions that have been deleted since the Baird government moved to impose the ‘Smart and Skilled’ training market.

‘Labor’s promise to scrap ‘Smart and Skilled’ is a good start, but its policy would still not make fees affordable for students on the North Coast.

‘It would do nothing to reverse the damage done to the region’s TAFE Fine Arts courses.

‘It would still allow for-profit private providers to take up to $740 million away from TAFE and take profits of more than $200 million from the public purse.

‘At the very least, the Greens believe for-profit private providers should be excluded from receiving public funding.

NSW Teachers Federation TAFE organiser Kathy Nicholson told Echonetdaily that the Nationals and Liberals were firmly to blame for cuts to TAFE.

‘This action is to highlight the Tafe cuts that are having such a serious impact on north coast TAFE by putting fees up for students and ripping the heart out of the campuses’ she said.

‘This campus is a skeleton of itself.

Ms Nicholson said the Lismore campus had lost two fine arts teachers, the head teacher of Art and Community Welfare, the campus manager and an Aboriginal clerical support officer.

‘A number of casual teachers, mainly women, are now out of work and I blame the Liberals and Nationals for almost 1200 job cuts, and for putting fees out of reach of everyone.’

Greens candidate for Lismore Adam Guise also said the North Coast TAFE Institute had been hit hard by the latest attacks on its secure funding under the Liberals’ so-called ‘Smart and Skilled’. Jobs have been lost, courses removed or significantly reduced and fees have hit record high levels.

‘TAFE is critical to the future of the northern rivers. Our region depends on employment in industries such as the arts, tourism, education and health. The urgent need to support the inevitable transition to a renewable economy requires a high quality, affordable and flexible vocational education and training system,’ Mr Guise said.

‘Our local TAFE campuses on the North Coast can deliver these courses and help the northern rivers enjoy a jobs boom, if they are given the funding they need. They must be protected from privatisation and the impacts of unfair competition with profit-focused corporations.

‘The flawed enrolment software has been a disaster. An apology from TAFE NSW Managing Director Pam Christie is not enough.

‘Nothing short of restoring TAFE’s funding will undo the damage done by Smart and Skilled.

‘The Liberals have erected barriers in front of students in the Lismore electorate seeking to either enrol in TAFE or complete their studies.

‘In a region facing high youth unemployment this has to be stopped.

‘When I am doorknocking or attending community meetings and street stalls, the devastation at TAFE including the exorbitant and unfair fee increases is one of the top concerns raised with me.

‘Voters in Victoria and Queensland changed governments in part because they were deeply disturbed by what they saw happening to TAFE in their states.

‘Now it’s the turn of voters in Lismore to decide on the future of skills training and education in this state.’

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