Finally, a break-through in empty TAFE building standoff
THE push to let Gympie's USC campus use a long-empty TAFE building has taken a major step forward, with a draft lease in the university's hands.
Employment Minister Shannon Fentiman said what happened next in the four-year campaign was at USC's discretion.
"Negotiations are in their final stages and the draft lease is with the University of the Sunshine Coast for their final approval,” Ms Fentiman said.
Gympie MP Tony Perrett welcomed the news, noting the timing of the lease's delivery to the university.
"I have been advised by the University of the Sunshine Coast that following my question in Parliament late last week a lease was sent to the USC two days later,” Mr Perrett said.
"I welcome the news that there could be light at the end of the tunnel.
"Four long years have gone by while Gympie students have missed opportunities which can never be retrieved.
"They have had to put up with unreasonable stonewalling, excuses and flat out refusal to let the USC access an empty and unwanted building.”
Mr Perrett still wondered why nothing had happened in the nine months since Ms Fentiman told Parliament discussions had reopened.
"The TAFE building is a state responsibility and it has deteriorated under its watch,” he said.
He called on the State Government to ensure the building was presented in an acceptable condition as "sign of good faith”.
And with Gympie Regional Council approving $100,000 towards the building's upgrade in August, Mr Perrett hoped the State Government would help.
"Taxpayers' dollars have been wasted as this building deteriorated while a willing tenant, who would pay for the lease, was waiting for access,” he said.
"It is disappointing that for four years the USC has not been able to offer more courses or increase its enrolments and cohorts of locals have had to moved away or miss out on the opportunity to go to university.
"Growing the local campus and offering more courses will mean so much for locals unable to attend university because of distance and financial reasons, 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.”