New polling done on behalf of the NSW Teachers Federation shows strong community support for TAFE and finds cuts to TAFE will be a vote-changing issue at next year’s NSW election.
NSWTF President Maurie Mulheron said the polling, taken in marginal seats across NSW, showed the public had no appetite for the Baird Government’s agenda of cuts to TAFEs, rising fees for students, and privatisation.
“This polling shows the broad support and respect TAFE has in the community, and we will be out campaigning in the lead-up to the election to tell people the impact Premier Baird’s policies will have on their local TAFE,” Mr Mulheron said.
“Premier Baird’s plans to adopt the flawed ‘contestable funding’ policy is a major threat to TAFE’s future, because it will allow for-profit training providers to get access to public funds previously reserved for TAFEs. We will see the same emergence of low-quality private providers that we have seen in Victoria.
“We will be running a radio advertising blitz early next year telling people about the impact of TAFE cuts and privatisations, particularly in regional areas where TAFE is crucial for giving young people skills.
“Polling was conducted across NSW in 20 state seats and showed that education is the second biggest issue for voters behind health.
“Voters are sending a strong message to politicians that they don’t support cuts to TAFE or the privatisation of training which has caused so much damage in other States.
“They want TAFE to stay, with 93 per cent saying that keeping a strong TAFE sector was important for NSW.
“The polling showed a stunning 75 per cent opposed cutbacks in public funding of TAFE and 59 per cent opposed increasing government funding to private training providers.
“This issue is clearly a potential vote-changer, with 51 per cent of voters saying the Baird Government’s TAFE policies would make them less likely to vote for the Coalition.
“The message from voters is clear. Attacks on TAFE will cost the Baird Government votes.
“People understand that keeping education and skills training accessible to everyone is important because it gives all Australians a chance to get the skills they need for a career.
“The defeat of the Napthine Coalition Government in Victoria last Saturday came after a campaign where TAFE cuts were a major issue and a point of difference between the major parties. Voters clearly did not support the Napthine Government’s gutting of TAFEs in Victoria.
“The Napthine Government’s approach has led to TAFEs share of the market in Victoria collapsing to 27 per cent, as poor-quality providers milk the funding system and deliver substandard training to students.
“TAFE has a proud history of delivering quality vocational education. Once the skills, experience and corporate knowledge of TAFEs are gone, they can’t be brought back.
“We have a chance to avoid the damage that has been done to TAFE in other States, but we don’t have much time to act.
“The Baird Government has already stripped $130 million from the NSW TAFE state Budget, sacked 1200 TAFE teachers and proposed a significant rise in student fees and debt.
“It must not continue the destruction of NSW TAFEs by further cutting funding and jobs, and by allowing for-profit providers to receive subsidies for providing training.
“The introduction of contestable funding in 2015 through the Baird Government’s Smart and Skilled program - which lets for-profit providers compete with TAFEs for funding -will have a further negative impact on the accessibility and quality of education and training provided.
For additional information please read the following articles from the Sydney Morning Herald: