Image for New education union takes aim at AEU over TAFE re-unification

The Tasmanian Education Association has greeted the AEU’s support for an inquiry into the Skills Institute and the Tasmanian Polytechnic with scorn. The TEA regards the AEU’s belated entry into the debate about the future provision of training and further education in Tasmania as a cynical attempt to present itself as relevant.

Greg Brown, TEA President, asks: “Where has the AEU been during the last four years when TAFE has been systematically dismantled?”

The TEA says that the AEU’s silence about the future of TAFE has been an endorsement of Tasmania Tomorrow which so far has cost Tasmanian taxpayers over $70 million.

Mr Brown said: “At best the AEU has been silent about the future of TAFE workers and their students. At its worst, in the lead up to the last state election, the AEU with its 9/10 Report Card gave a ringing endorsement to the Bartlett government which was determined to persevere with the discredited Tasmania Tomorrow restructure. Everyone knows Tasmania Tomorrow is the cause of all of the problems that the Polytech and Skills Institute now have.”

The TEA also rejects AEU criticism of the Liberal Party which is also supporting the TEA’s call for the immediate re-unification of TAFE.

“In his press release, Rex Calvert, the AEU TAFE Division president, has shown why he and the AEU lack credibility when they talk about TAFE. He has a lot of nerve disparaging the Liberal Party over its stand on Tasmania Tomorrow,” Mr Brown said. “He knows full well that the Liberals and the Greens went into the last election with policies to end Tasmania Tomorrow. The Liberals are continuing to make good on their promise, while the Greens are only backing an inquiry.”

“Paul O’Halloran is the Green’s spokesman on education. “Is calling for a review the best he can do after 18 months in parliament? Where has he been all this time?” Mr Brown asked.

“Even though Polytech and Skills debts keep rising, the dislocation keeps growing and students and courses keep disappearing, there has hardly been a peep out of Rex Calvert or the AEU until now. No doubt it is merely a belated attempt to take credit for the TEA’s push for the re-unification of TAFE.”

The TEA reiterates its call for Nick McKim to announce the immediate restoration of TAFE. The TEA insists that decisive leadership by the education minister can have the two halves of TAFE re-united and ready at the start of 2012.

“When politicians are too frightened to make a decision, they find a place to hide behind a review,” Mr Brown added. “That means more money wasted and more time lost.”

“All Nick McKim has to do is tell the Polytechnic and Skills Institute CEOs to do it,” Mr Brown said. “The people that made TAFE a world class institution are still there. They know what has to be done. Re-instating the secondary colleges was easy last year. This will be too.”