…as published in the South Coast Register 12 February 2015
THE NSW Greens have challenged both major parties about their policies on education.
Greens NSW MP John Kaye said he wanted voters to be aware both parties were prepared to hand over hundreds of millions of dollars of TAFE money to private for-profit corporations.
“Both major political parties are looking at around $700 million worth of tax payer’s funds going off to private providers,” he said, speaking at the TAFE Illawarra Nowra/Bomaderry Campus on Wednesday.
“About a third of that, $230 million, could end up as profits for the private corporations. That’s an awful lot of money that’s not going into TAFE.
“It’s going to lower the standards of education and training and take away from TAFE the capacity to operate campuses like the Nowra/Bomaderry campus that are so critical to the economic development of the region and so critical to opportunities of residents in the Shoalhaven.”
Mr Kaye said Labor was happy to let 30 per cent of the total training budget disappear into private providers.
“That’s $693 million or 7000 potential teaching positions that could disappear each year from TAFE’s budget,” he said.
“About 40 per cent of students will see substantial increases in their fees this year and next year we will see about $700 million go out of the public sector vocational education training budget from TAFE into the competitive market.
“The government argues it will create more opportunity, but the reality is that is a way for government to spend less on training, which is effectively privatisation of TAFE.”
Mr Kaye said these issues needed to be in voters’ minds in six weeks’ time.
“The Greens say no money should go out of the public budget to private providers who operate for profit,” he said.
“There should be no money going to any private provider where TAFE can provide the same service.”
Greens Kiama candidate Terry Barratt said both major political parties had undermined the value of TAFE.
“I’m really concerned. The Greens are working on a jobs initiative in the Kiama and South Coast electorates. Are we wasting our time? What the heck are we doing? If we don’t have the opportunity of training youths they won’t have the opportunity to get involved in the new, growing, sustainable economy,” he said.
“How can students be involved in courses if they can’t afford them? And the few that can afford them will probably find they are not being run because there aren’t enough students.
“Shelley [Hancock] is saying there is more money – but it’s going to the private enterprises.”