On the day of a Save TAFE rally in Melbourne protesting savage cuts by the Baillieu government, Federal Skills Minister Chris Evans has declined to intervene to rescue Victoria's TAFE system in response to a question from Australian Greens Higher Education spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon in question time (audio here and video above).
Senator Rhiannon also introduced a motion today calling on the Gillard government to urgently introduce measures to curtail the growth in enrolments in private VET providers (full motion below).
"The Federal Skills Minister Chris Evans has had, along with Premier Ballieu, a strong hand in the emasculation of the public TAFE system in Victoria, orchestrating COAG's push to privatise vocational education and training.
"Today Minister Evans in response to my question in the Senate denied the federal government could do anything about the TAFE mess, despite his ability to impose conditions on the allocation of VET funding to the states. He effectively said it is up to the public to campaign to reverse the cuts.
"In Victoria private VET courses have now overtaken public TAFE courses. There has also been a 310% growth in enrolments in private Registered Training Organisations.
"The net result for the TAFE system is closed campuses, staff cuts, fewer course options, a hike in student fees and charges and a less educated population which will hurt Australia's economy.
"I congratulate everyone who rallied today in Melbourne to defend TAFE.
"Minister Evans will fail his duty to Australians and the economy's need for skilled workers if he sits on his hands and watches the public TAFE system diminish across the nation.
"The federal government should be funding and developing public providers, not designing a system that builds the private sector while destroying public TAFE institutions," Senator Rhiannon said.
Notice of Motion - 20 September 2012 - to be moved in the next sitting week beginning 13 Oct 12
That the Senate-
1) Notes that:
a) On 20 September 2012 thousands of students, parents, teachers, staff and friends of TAFE rallied in Victoria, and in other states, to support TAFE students and staff who are bearing the brunt of state government budget cuts such as the Baillieu Government's devastating $300 million TAFE cuts, which will lead to campus closures, job losses, more courses cut, further increases to students fees and charges, and will damage the economy.
b) The Baillieu government's $300 million VET budget cuts result from a drastic shift in VET market share, where private VET courses have overtaken TAFE courses for the first time, coupled with a 310% growth in enrolments in private Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), a failure of state and federal VET policy that TAFE should not be punished for.
c) The NSW government last week delivered a $1.7 billion education budget cut that includes 800 job losses at TAFE NSW and will result in a 9.5 per cent increase in TAFE NSW course fees.
d) The market-based student-entitlement model that is failing in Victoria and being adopted in other states poses a risk to the viability of the TAFE system and to the economy as it is unlikely to deliver the skilled workforce mix that Australia needs.
2) Calls on the government to:
a) Urgently introduce measures to curtail the growth in enrolments in private VET providers and RTOs which is draining state government VET budgets; and
b) Revise the National Partnership Agreement to phase out entitlement-based funding and fee help, and instead focus on funding and developing public providers.