State gvt refuses to rule out more cuts to Gympie TAFE
TAFE in Gympie still faces an uncertain future, with the possibility of cutting more courses still on the state government table.
Gympie MP Tony Perrett said the Attorney-General and Minister for Training, Yvette D'Ath, had deliberately ignored questions for nine months about the closure of nursing studies at Gympie TAFE.
"I wrote to the Minister in December last year seeking an urgent commitment because of rumours circulating that courses would be closed," Mr Perrett said.
"The Minister has only just replied with a letter which says absolutely nothing, commends me for my advocacy for Gympie students, but still refuses to rule out the reduction or removal of courses.
"Frankly I do not care about the Minister's platitudes.
"What I care about is that Gympie students are being penalised by the Minister's inability or, more recklessly, the Minister's absolute refusal to make a decision.
"The Nursing Studies course closed in December leaving Gympie students penalised by Government paralysis in making constructive decisions about the Gympie Education Precinct," he said.
Mr Perrett said that Nursing Studies was a Pathway course for students wishing to advance to study for a Bachelor of Nursing at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) at the same campus.
"This issue is particularly distressing for many constituents who have reminded me that during the last State election the Labor Party and its candidate promised to maintain and in fact increase courses at the Gympie TAFE.
"The Minister's treatment of Gympie students is not only disgraceful it is contemptible.
"This is the same campus which has an empty TAFE building which the USC is ready and willing to lease so that it can offer more courses and increase enrolments.
"Instead out of sheer bloody mindedness the Minister obstinately lets the building sit empty across the car park from the USC.
"What compounds this is that TAFE has said that it doesn't even need the building.
"This has been going on now for almost two years as the USC was ready to sign off on the agreement to lease the building before the change of Government," he said.
Mr Perrett said that the removal of TAFE courses and blocking of the USC expansion is worrying local students who raised this at the Gympie Youth Forum which was held in June.
Speaking in Parliament last week Mr Perrett said that several representatives pointed out that the lack of opportunities to study to gain tertiary qualifications was pushing local youth to leave the region.
"The limited university and TAFE options means that if a student cannot afford to move away they are denied the chance to pursue a tertiary education which has a significant impact on their job expectations," Mr Perrett said.
"Students have been missing out since last year and it looks like 2017 will become another missed opportunity.
"The Minister's actions are not just unthinking they are actually hurting the hopes and aspirations of our youth," he said.