First step back from the brink
The announcement by the ALP that it intends to "rebalance" the VET market by allocating guaranteed funding to TAFE is a small but significant step back from the brink for Australian TAFE colleges. When combined with the proposal that an ALP government would develop a national statement collaboratively with the states and territories to define and support TAFE, it is clear that we are witnessing a turn in the tide of TAFEs fortunes. But the battle is not over, and TAFE has not yet been saved.
The Federal Government and incoming Minister Brendan O’Connor need to decide what to do with Commonwealth VET Partnership funding for NSW and Victoria. Twelve months ago, then Federal Minister for Tertiary Education, Chris Evans took a stand against recalcitrant state governments to stop them cutting funding to TAFE institutes, and refused to pass on Partnership funding. What is at stake is more than $560M of Commonwealth funding to NSW over the next five years, and more than $430M to Victoria.
As a representative of the people of Queensland and current minister in the Queensland government I call on you to justify the actions of your department in attempting to negotiate working conditions that devalue the professional status of my role as a teacher.