More than 50 protesters rallied outside Roza Sage’s office on Friday to protest against the NSW government’s planned changes to TAFE.
Greens MP John Kaye addressed the crowd, vowing to push through his Save TAFE legislation, which the ALP has now decided to support.
He said the Coalition’s new “Smart and Skilled” training program, which it plans to introduce next year, “is handing over the future of education to a bunch of corporate providers”.
The scheme proposes to strip TAFE of much of its funding and put it into direct competition with private training companies, he said.
He called on Roza Sage and “every Coalition MP to stand up to Adrian Piccoli and say enough is enough”.
“Labor has recognised that TAFE faces a crisis and that the Greens Save TAFE legislation must get through at least the Upper House if we are to avoid more rounds of job losses, courses cut and disability services slashed,” Dr Kaye said.
“This is exactly the time to put aside political difference and stand up together against the O’Farrell government’s devastating attacks on TAFE.
“We now need only the votes of the Shooters and Fishers or the Christian Democrats to push this Bill through the Upper House and lay down the challenge to Education Minister Adrian Piccoli.”
Labor’s education spokesman, Ryan Park, a former high school teacher, said his colleagues had decided to support Dr Kaye’s bill.
“This is not something we have to consider in a budget context, this is something we have to do if we are ever going to get back into power in NSW,” he said.
NSW TAFE Teachers Association president, Phil Chadwick, told the rally TAFE was invaluable in empowering people and breaking the social welfare cycle. “We are here to send a message to the NSW government that TAFE cuts are just simply not on. The NSW government doesn’t respect this TAFE system, it doesn’t respect its teachers and it cares little about the people of NSW.”
He said the “Smart and Skilled” scheme was “just one big fat budget cut”.
Mrs Sage said the Labor/Greens alliance on TAFE was nothing than “a political, self-promotion exercise”.
“I found it much more constructive to sit down with representatives of the Wentworth Falls TAFE Teachers Association earlier in the week to have a mature discussion about issues affecting our local campus.” Mrs Sage said she would “be happy to present their views to the minister.”