Skills and Training Minister Sarah Courtney is unable or unwilling to rule out cuts to courses, campus closures and job losses among teachers under her woefully misguided plan to privatise TAFE.
Shadow Education Minister Josh Willie said three times today in the State Parliament Ms Courtney refused to dismiss widespread concerns that TAFE would be gutted under her plan to transform the institution into a GBE.
“In South Australia where there has been a similar flawed plan, there were cuts to 20 courses in areas of high need, such as childcare, aged care and disability,” Mr Willie said.
“And this year in that state the axe will fall on other courses including retail, dental, performing arts, photography, rural operations, counselling and work health and safety.
“Ms Courtney cannot – or will not – rule out a comparable catastrophe in Tasmania as she pushes ahead with her plan to make TAFE a GBE which means it will become autonomous and she will lose control.
“She has had multiple opportunities to rule out attacking courses, losing staff, campus closures, a loss of employment conditions for teachers or fee hikes for students.
“She cannot – or will not – because she simply does not understand the potentially disastrous ramifications of her proposed plan.
“Her understanding is so limited that TasTAFE want to suspend wage negotiations with teachers because Ms Courtney can’t give them any direction.
“For the past seven years, the Liberals have undermined and underinvested in TAFE, with enrolments declining by more than 30 per cent on their watch.
“Now under their current plan, teachers are concerned and parents and students are worried that the Liberals’ plan to blow up TAFE will result in Tasmanians losing access to the courses they need to get jobs.
“Ms Courtney needs to admit that she has got it badly wrong and go back to the drawing board so there are more – not fewer – courses and no hike in fees which will only further deepen Tasmania’s skills crisis.”
Josh Willie MLC
Shadow Education Minister