Minister has 30 days to 'come clean' about Gympie TAFE
THE State Government has 30 days to "come clean” about the empty TAFE building at the Gympie Education Precinct.
Member for Gympie Tony Perrett said that the Minister for Training, Yvette D'Ath, was asked to answer the Parliament about advice from TAFE Queensland regarding the empty and unused building.
"In a Question on Notice I asked the minister yesterday whether she had been advised by TAFE Queensland or East Coast TAFE that it no longer requires the building,” Mr Perrett said.
"I also asked when this advice was received and when will the building be available to lease to the University of the Sunshine Coast.
"Under Parliamentary rules the minister is required to provide an answer to the Parliament by November 14.
"The University of the Sunshine Coast wants to lease the building so that it can increase its campus presence and offer more enrolment places and courses.
"The building just sits empty across the car park from the university site.
"I have been advised that both the department and the university have done everything that was required of them to make this happen.
"Unfortunately, the decision has been sitting on the minister's desk for months and she recklessly refuses to do anything about it.
"The university has been asking for the keys to the door for almost two years and the minister just ignores any representations.
"This is case of sheer bloody-mindedness as this will not cost the Government any money and it would benefit Gympie students and the region.
"The minister cannot claim ignorance because it has been raised many times in correspondence, speeches, questions, during Estimates last year and through the media.
"You have to ask yourself just how long does it take for the minister to make a decision.
"The only decision the minister seems to be able to make is for placard waving media events outside Tafes and none that are about supporting our local students.
"This is really about paying back union demands and penalising our local students.
"The Government will do anything to appease the unions which do not want anyone to use Tafe buildings - even if they are empty and unused.
"With the Wide Bay identified as a national hotspot for youth unemployment at a rate of 20.6%.this is a disgraceful treatment of your youth, our community and a wasteful handling of taxpayers' dollars.
"There are lost opportunities for local students are not able to attend university because of distance and financial factors, for the high number of unemployed youth who are wanting 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.
Mr Perrett said student numbers at the Gympie site had grown from 45 students in 2013 doing two degrees to 217 enrolled in ten courses last year, and 267 this current semester.