NSW Labor will maintain all existing TAFE facilities in the Upper Hunter and will not use established Connected Learning Centres (CLC) as an excuse to sell them.
This commitment comes as the Government refuses to rule out further privatisation of Upper Hunter TAFE assets, jeopardising access to hands-on skills training in the region.
The Shadow Minister for Skills and TAFE Jihad Dib and NSW Labor candidate for the Upper Hunter Jeff Drayton visited Quirindi’s TAFE NSW campus today to discuss concerns about the facility’s future.
Mr Drayton said the National Party has sold out the region’s young people through the sale of the Scone TAFE campus:
As if we aren’t already pumping billions into the NSW economy, now the National Party wants to sell Upper Hunter TAFE campuses to fund campuses in other parts of NSW. It’s another example of us not getting our fair share.
“People need to learn skills on the ground in their local communities. They shouldn’t have to travel hours from home to meet training requirements for skills our local industries desperately need,” Mr Drayton said.
During Budget Estimates in March, the Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said the Government was not privatising TAFE in NSW. Soon after this hearing, the Government confirmed it had sold the NSW TAFE campus in Scone to Racing NSW. A year earlier, the Government told a parliamentary inquiry it had no plan to do so.
Mr Dib said: “The sale of Scone TAFE was a shock to the community, after the Minister made several assurances the Scone TAFE campus would remain open despite the opening of a Connected Learning Centre there in 2019.
“We’ve seen this Government deceive communities on this issue already. Who’s to say this won’t happen again at Quirindi or Singleton?
Mr Dib said the Government must take responsibility for short-changing the Upper Hunter to the tune of $1 million, after the rushed $4 million sale of Scone TAFE without community consultation. The Connected Learning Centre was established for $3 million.
“The people of the Upper Hunter don’t deserve to be short-changed when it comes to education. Labor will enhance TAFE rather than sell assets like this Government.
“Labor knows a CLC is no replacement for a properly-resourced TAFE campus. You can’t learn the practical, hands-on skills required for most traineeships and apprenticeships in front of a computer,” Mr Dib said.