Decision on TAFE building 'left to clueless minister'
THE State Labor Minister who refuses to let the University of the Sunshine Coast lease an empty TAFE building at Gympie has no clue of what is going on at the education and training provider, Gympie MP Tony Perrett said yesterday.
Training and Skills Minister Yvette D'Ath knew nothing about the termination of hundreds of jobs and outsourcing positions to south-east Asia, he said.
"This is the same minister who has refused to make a decision for the last 20 months to allow the USC to lease an empty and unused TAFE building at the Gympie Education Precinct.
"TAFE has said it doesn't want the building and USC just needs access.
"I have been advised that both the department and the university have done everything that was required of them to make this happen.
"In a Question without Notice in Parliament this week I asked the minister to explain how the termination of hundreds of TAFE IT contractors across Queensland and the outsourcing of positions to the Philippines supports the development of IT industry and small business in Queensland.
"The minister had no clue about what is going on, could not answer, and asked me to table the news article.
"This is despite the on-line story appearing in The Gympie Times and 11 other newspapers from regional and rural Queensland. Just how incompetent is the minister?
"Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent each year by the minister's department on media monitoring.
"How did they miss a story that appeared in news outlets in Gympie, the Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast, Rockhampton, Whitsunday, Charleville, Warwick, Stanthorpe, Isis Blackwater and Ipswich?
"It's hard to believe she wouldn't have heard about this issue from Labor members in some of those regions.
"The minister said that she knew there have been issues in relation to the IT contracts and that TAFE was keeping her informed of the progress of the contracts.
"Yet the Minister had no clue about what I was asking.
"The Minister expects us to believe that the head of TAFE Queensland, Jodi Schmidt, knew about the axing of hundreds of staff but the Minister knew nothing.
"If the head of TAFE is not telling her about what is going on just what is she telling the Minister?
"This portfolio is clearly overwhelming the Minister and she is either out of her depth or simply incapable of providing timely, prudent and competent administration.
"No wonder Gympie cannot get an answer regarding the TAFE site here.”
"It's not as if the Government doesn't lease buildings and sites if there is a community benefit,” he said.
Speaking on the Major Sports Facilities and Other Legislation Amendment Bill this week Mr Perrett pointed out that the Government was willing lease some land to the Broncos' football club in return for a package of community benefits.
"The community benefits for Gympie would be enormous as the USC wants to offer more courses and increase enrolments in our region which is crying out for increased opportunities for tertiary education,” Mr Perrett said.
"However out of sheer bloody-mindedness the Minister obstinately lets the building sit empty across the car park from the USC.
"The decision has been sitting on the Minister's desk for months and she is refusing to do anything about it.
"How long does it take this Minister to make a decision?
"The incompetence is reckless and harming our students.
"The indecision is creating lost opportunities for local students who are not able to attend University because of distance and financial factors, for the high number of unemployed youth who want to gain skills, and for mature-aged students who are trying to upskill but are not able to move away because of work and family commitments,” he said.