scissorsLast Friday, the Queensland State Government released its response to the Queensland Skills and Training Taskforce final report.  The response, disappointingly but perhaps not surprisingly, supports 35 of the 40 recommendations (with the remaining 5 receiving “in principle support) put forward by the Taskforce.

In the Government’s comments throughout the response, TAFE is lauded as “the benchmark for training quality” and for its “unique role” in meeting the needs of disadvantaged learners; and yet the LNP is eager to follow the dangerous path of contestable funding and privatisation.

A great deal of detail is yet to be announced, with several strategies, reviews and policies to be completed over the next 6 months; and no solid information about which courses will receive what levels of government funding.

What we do know from this response is that, Campbell Newman’s government will close 13 TAFE campuses, with many more under threat.  It will make government training funds fully contestable.  The Taskforce’s view that “the level of public provision in the longer term future should be on an ‘as and where it is needed basis’” has been accepted by the Queensland Government.  It is as we feared; that the end of the reform process in Queensland in the eyes of the Taskforce and the LNP is the full privatisation of TAFE.

The National Partnership Agreement on Skills Reform requires jurisdictions to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the VET system through:

(b) development and implementation of strategies which enable public providers to operate effectively in an environment of greater competition, recognising their important function in servicing the training needs of industry, regions and local communities, and their role that spans high level training and workforce development for industries and improved skill and job outcomes for disadvantages learners and communities.

Senator Chris Evans has condemned the cuts in this press release. The Federal Government must go further and ensure that Commonwealth funds do not flow to states which are in breach of the Agreement’s requirement to ensure the public provider, TAFE, can operate effectively.  Furthermore, with the entire east coast of Australia now following in Victoria’s footsteps with misguided policy and savage cuts, it is time for decisive action from the Federal Government to ensure the future of TAFE around Australia.

Further Reading: