Greens candidate for Cowper, Carol Vernon
Greens candidate for Cowper, Carol Vernon

Greens slam TAFE funding takeover draft

A LEAKED draft paper flagging the possibility of a federal TAFE funding takeover has been slammed by the Greens candidate for Cowper, but the seat's MP, Luke Hartsuyker, maintains it is a work in progress.

The draft paper circulated last week disclosed federal plans by Mr Hartsuyker, who is also the Vocational Education and Training Minister, to deregulate TAFE fees so they receive the same amount of funding as private colleges, based on the notion that competition will deliver benefits to the education industry.

But Greens candidate Carol Vernon said as an educator and candidate she was appalled by the notion, which she predicted would see some Cowper students with limited finances, or those requiring learning support, suffer.

"The Baird-Grant government with its 'Get Smart, Get Skilled' privatisation program has presided over a degree of TAFE privatisation that has seen the numbers of TAFE students plummet by 83,000 since 2012," she said.

"As an educator I grieve for the regional students and their families who may have already had a less than satisfactory school experience but see TAFE as a pathway to further education.

"They will now face extra travel, higher course fees and debt. Education is not an 'industry'.

"Based on a blind commitment to an outdated ideology, Minister Luke Hartsuyker and his Turnbull-Truss government mates are selling out our Mid North Coast small businesses, tradies, students and families to deliver profits to private providers."

Mr Hartsuyker has downplayed the draft paper, saying the Federal Government had no intention of taking over the TAFE system.

"The story being generated revolves around the fact the first minsters requested a range of papers on federation reform which covered various areas," he said.

"What they did ask for was a paper to be prepared in relation to a national vocational education system, and a draft paper has been prepared by government officials but it is still a work in progress."

Mr Hartsuyker said it was just one issue that would be brought to the table at the Council Of Australian Governments meeting in March.

"We spend $10 billion a year on training - $6 billion from Federal and $4 billion from State," he said.

"So it's perfectly reasonable to ask, can we be more efficient in the way we spend this money?

"It's nothing more than that and this paper will cover issues on a range of matters."

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