State Labor leaders visited the Murwillumbah TAFE site yesterday calling on the National Party’s Lismore MP Thomas George to stop his government selling it off.
They described the ‘attack’ on TAFE as ‘short-sighted’ and against the interests of young people in rural and regional areas trying to gain work skills.
Staff and students of the TAFE joined the leaders on the steps of the TAFE building to call on the government to stop the controversial sell-off.
They said Mr George, whose electorate takes in Murwillumbah, backed the sale of the site despite the high jobless rate among youth in the area.
Opposition leader Luke Foley said TAFE ‘is an important stepping stone that many young people use to get valuable skills that transition them from school to the workforce’.
‘The Nationals have a clear agenda – sell off TAFE; starve TAFE and push vocational funding out to the private providers,’ Mr Foley said.
‘On the north coast, there is high youth unemployment and the last thing, the Nationals should do is cut TAFE,’ he said.
‘There is a trades and skill shortage across the State.”oto– which will be sold as part of the Nationals’ attack on TAFE.
The state government has estimated the Murwillumbah TAFE campus site is worth at almost $3 million ($2.96m) and is one of 21 regional towns where TAFE facilities are being sold or closed.
‘With unemployment for young people on the North Coast running at around 15 per cent, TAFE is one of the last educational institutions that the state government should be closing,’ Mr Foley said.
‘This comes on the top of significant fee increases for some TAFE courses.
‘TAFE provides valuable skills to young people and returns people to work as well as helping workers transition to new fields.’
The Murwillumbah TAFE was one of the sites in rural and regional areas listed in a confidential cabinet document released in early September. The other sites included Ballina, Taree, Scone, Vincentia, Maclean, Corowa, Narrandera and Grenfell.
‘The state government says it wants to cancel courses at Murwillumbah and “consolidate” students with the Kingscliff TAFE – forcing students on limited incomes to drive significant distances each week,’ the opposition leader continued.
‘ In addition, statewide, more than 2,500 teachers and educational support staff jobs were lost in TAFE in 2014-15,’ he said.
‘More than 3,600 TAFE teachers have been axed over the last three years by the Nationals.’