Still no budging on wasted Gympie TAFE building

Tim Nichols and Tony Perrett at the USC building in Gympie.
Tim Nichols and Tony Perrett at the USC building in Gympie. Renee Albrecht

THE State Labor Government and now the Premier has refused to commit to publicly release an overdue review into TAFE assets which would let Gympie university students know whether they will have more opportunities to study locally, says Gympie MP Tony Perrett.

Mr Perrett said the Premier's refusal in Parliament this week meant yet another year of high school students and mature aged students who want to study locally would be denied.

"On numerous occasions we have been told that the potential lease of an empty and unused Gympie TAFE building to the University of the Sunshine Coast is contingent on the release of the 10-year Strategic Infrastructure Plan.

"Despite being due for release in July last year, and costing almost $1 million in consultations, the Attorney-General and Minister for Training and Skills, Yvette D'Ath, obstinately refuses to release the document or grant a lease to USC.

"TAFE has already said it doesn't even want the building which sits across the carpark from the Gympie campus of the USC.

"The university wants access to the building so that it can increase enrolments and the courses on offer.

"When asked to intervene and commit to the plan's release the Premier ducked and weaved running protection for the ineffectual Minister.

"With a youth unemployment level which has risen by 2.5 % in the last year to 23.5 % in the Wide Bay region the response demonstrates that the Premier and government pays lip service to supporting youth in the regions.

"It is time the Premier was decisive and told the Minister to release the report, make a decision, or be sacked,” he said.

"The Minister has deliberately sat on this decision since the election in January 2015 showing a complete disregard for the Gympie students.

"In those three years someone could have gone to university and now be completing the last semester of a basic undergraduate degree,” he said.

Mr Perrett said that out of sheer bloody-mindedness the Minister has been intransigent in giving Gympie students a choice in tertiary education, a choice in opportunities, or a choice in improving their chances of securing a long term job.

"For a year we were told we had to wait for a review and then after the review was due we were told we had to wait for a draft for a final plan,” Mr Perrett said.

"Late last year the Minister had no idea of a timeline for consultation, a release date for the draft plan or when a final decision on a final plan was due.

"In May the Minister advised that the 'government is taking the time to fully consider stakeholder views before releasing the Plan'.

"Then only two months later at Estimates in July the Director General of the Department of Employment and Training, Dr Watterston, said that 'I make no apology for not having the plan ready'.

"It is obvious the Minister is either not in control of the agenda or the department and is ducking the decision.

"The Minister also told Estimates that "... we will continue to partner with other agencies and with universities” and that "we are happy to enter into arrangements for sharing space where TAFE does not need it in the immediate future”:

"Given this litany of conflicting excuses I have asked two more Questions on Notice which the Minister is required to respond by 11 September.*

"We need clear and unambiguous answers to a number of question including: when the Department advised that the plan was not finalised, when it will be finalised, is there even a timeline on the completion of the plan, and whether interested stakeholders were advised that the plan is still not completed.

"Given that TAFE has previously advised it does not want the building I have also asked when a lease will be granted to the USC and whether it will be in time for students to make a preference for the Gympie campus in the 2018 academic year.

"Gympie students are only asking for a fair go.

"The indecision is creating lost opportunities for local students who are unable to attend university because of distance and financial factors, for the high number of unemployed youth who want to gain skills, for mature-aged students who are trying to upskill but are unable to move away because of work and family commitments, and for our community when students have to move away and permanently and reluctantly leave our region,” he said.

Gympie Times

Topics:  gympie politics gympie tafe tony perrett usc gympie

No concrete plans for Kybong servo staff

Matilda the kangaroo is at the Matilda Service Station at Kybong.

There are serious fears for 50 to 60 local jobs

Why everyone should do a Roadcraft course

DRIVEN BY SAFETY: Glen Jocumsen with one of the Roadcraft fleet.

'They don't realise their car is that good but they're that bad'

They're a new level of silly

TOO FAR? Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is in Colin's crosshairs this week.

Colin feels the section 44C saga has sunk to a new low

Local Partners

What's on the small screen this week

JESSICA Marais returns in The Wrong Girl and The Block's kids bedrooms are sure to inspire.

Playing Tom Cruise's wife was a dream for Sarah Wright

Tom Cruise and Sarah Wright in American Made.

The actress stars opposite Cruise in the action comedy

GALLERY: Fun and fashion at the races

Monica Belz.

Fashion and fun meet at the Gympie Showgrounds

Taylor Swift wipes presence off social media

Singer Taylor Swift has deleted her social media accounts

Social media wipeout prompts rumours of a new album

What's On? 10 things to see and do this week

Judah Kelly will be rocking the Muster stage this week

There's plenty to see and do this week

Swedish TV drama turns up heat

Louise Nyvall stars in the Swedish TV series Farang.

Scandinavian crime thriller goes troppo

Aboriginal artists' call to action

Anwar Young, winner of this year's overall prize and last year's young artist prize.

Important messages of survival and healing

New Gympie real estate mag has everything you need

Look out for SOLD ON in The Gympie Times on Wednesday.

The first Gympie edition of Sold On will be out on Wednesday

EXPLAINED: What the 'Costco effect' means for Ipswich

PRICE WARS: A Costco store similar to this one in Canberra, is planned for Ipswich.

Exclusive 'cult' about to change how families do grocery shopping

4800 homes to be built in massive new Coast estate

Masterplanned community full steam ahead - it's not Caloundra South

Open for inspection homes August 17 - 23

Check out this weekend's homes open for inspection.