With dozens of Ballarat TAFE courses set to be axed due to state government funding cuts, unions can expect no assistance from the federal government according to a Coalition frontbencher.
Opposition spokesman for education Christopher Pyne visited Ballarat yesterday and was asked about the possibility of federal intervention to fill the TAFE funding black-hole.
“My understanding is that the cuts that have been made are as a result of mismanagement by the previous Labor government, who had an open ended approach to TAFE funding,” he said.
“That blew out. The Baillieu government has had to make the tough decisions to live within its means.”
Mr Pyne said there was an “emergency fund” which could be accessed by the Education Minister to prop-up schools, but not TAFE institutions.
“The emergency fund is for short term, small amounts of money – up to about a million dollars,” he said.
“It’s for schools, not TAFE colleges. TAFEs are uniquely the responsibility of state governments.”
Mr Pyne said it was not the federal government’s responsibility to “plug the gap”, but made mention of Victoria’s TAFE colleges being among the best.
“They have a very good model created by the Kennett government and continued by the Bracks and Brumby governments,” he said.
“The problem with TAFE colleges in Victoria is they’ve been allowed to enrol so many more students than they could afford – basically subsidised by the Victorian taxpayer.”
Ballarat patron Senator Michael Ronaldson said the state government was re-aligning funding priorities into trades, rather than courses which have no “long term outcome employment-wise”.
“Back into the trades, back into the plumbers, the electricians – those that are going to make long term contribution to the Victorian economy,” he said.
University of Ballarat vice-chancellor David Battersby told a recent Committee for Ballarat breakfast the cuts would have a deleterious impact on the community, including on the horse racing industry.
“As a result of the (government funding) decisions that have been made, it is likely we will have to get out of racing education,” Dr Battersby said.
“That’s a tragedy and it is one of these deleterious impacts at a lower level in terms of this relatively blunt instrument that is being used to re-jig the subsidies around training.”