MONDAY 23 May, 2016
BIRD: It’s beyond doubt that under the current federal government there has been an absolute outbreak of rorting, shonky, unethical behaviour by some of the private sector and Labor would absolutely endorse that view which proposed very strong actions. In his Budget Reply speech, Bill Shorten made it clear that the pendulum has swung too far and we have put in place some serious caps on what could happen with the use of VET FEE-HELP.
Labor has always been the party of TAFE, we established TAFE, we have always backed TAFE and we have in fact announced a TAFE funding guarantee.
JOURNALIST: Would you agree though that actually in retrospect it was a poor decision for the Labor Party and for Julia Gillard to invite the for-profit companies into the sector?
BIRD: Well the reality is that some for-profit providers have been in the vocational education sector for a long time and it is the case that we had the view that the use of VET FEE-HELP loans, which then enables a vocational student to get a loan in the same way as a higher-ed Uni student would under the HELP scheme, was an appropriate thing to do.
When you do things like that you actually have to monitor and keep an eye on what’s happening and under the current federal Liberal government we have been screaming at them for two years about the fact that they simply let the system blow out and we saw a massive increase around the middle of 2014 to now. We agree that that needs to be cleaned up. We’ve got very strong measures proposed to do that and more importantly TAFE as our public provider has to be dominant, has to be there available for everyone.
In NSW under the NSW Liberal government saw course costs up, closed down courses, closed colleges as we have seen here in Dapto and really made it very difficult for students to get a TAFE education so that is why at the federal level this election we are campaigning on funding guarantees for TAFE and will continue to stand up for TAFE.
JOURNALIST: So I guess in that case you’re supporting the fact that the Greens are making this an election issues, it would be a good thing in your mind?
BIRD: Well in July last year when we attended National TAFE Day, Bill Shorten with myself in federal parliament with the TAFE Teachers Union and affiliated and associated Unions and a whole lot of MP’s from Labor made it very clear that we were going to back TAFE and Bill actually said I am going to put this on the federal agenda.
Of course we believe it should be debated it’s really important. The Turnbull government had a leaked document at the end of last year that said they were going to take over the whole system and treat TAFE as no different to any other training provider. Well they did that in Victoria and it almost bought TAFE to its knees. So it might be a good question for the Liberal candidate in the region about what exactly they’re going to do.
We know now that obviously Labor and the Greens support TAFE what are our Liberal candidates going to be doing about supporting the TAFEs in our region.
JOURNALIST: That is Sharon Bird talking to ABC News, we have also put in a call to Liberal candidate Michelle Blicavs for the Coalitions view on TAFE as well.