ANGUISH, accusations and political infighting have occurred since State Budget papers containing massive cuts to Victoria’s TAFE sector funding were released.
Higher Education and Skills Minister Peter Hall was reported in The Age as saying he shared the emotions of shock, incredulity, disbelief and anger of TAFE leaders when they were briefed on the cuts last Friday.
“It was not hard to read your feelings, given that we in the department and my staff have shared similar emotions for many months now, as we have argued and anguished over budget decisions,’’ Mr Hall said in a letter understood to have been delivered to TAFE chiefs on Sunday.
In the letter, Mr Hall wrote: “The easy thing to do would be to give up, to throw in the towel. Believe me I have thought of doing that on many occasions in recent months. However, those thoughts have been fleeting because what we have, and what we do, is too important to be given over to resignation.’’
While some in the Coalition are outraged by Mr Hall’s candid admissions, opposition skills spokesman Steve Herbert said Mr Hall had failed, and the budget would devastate the TAFE sector.
“As a result of the $100 million per year TAFE cuts, GippsTAFE will lose $5 million in funding, and is now looking to drop hospitality training and axe 35 jobs,” he said.
Locally Advance TAFE faces some of the toughest budget cuts in years, but chief executive Peter Heilbuth is not predicting the dire consequences his GippsTAFE counterpart has.
Instead Mr Heilbuth expressed his confidence Advance TAFE would offer the most attractive educational choices for east of Gippsland.
While no headline funding for the TAFE’s Port of Sale campus was included in the budget papers Mr Heilbuth was not despondent.
“We have applied for Federal funding for the campus under the Educational Infrastructure Fund.
“What I understand is if that application is successful the (State) government has set aside money for regional TAFE funding and could tip some of those dollars in to match the Federal funding,” he said.
For more read Friday’s Gippsland Times.