MPs slam plan to shut down Murwillumbah TAFE
RICHMOND MP Justine Elliot and Shadow Minister for vocational study Sharon Bird have slammed the North Coast Nationals for not safeguarding Murwillumbah's TAFE campus from closure.
The duo visited the campus on Thursday, backed by a band of supporters.
Last week, a leaked cabinet document revealed Murwillumbah's TAFE campus was among those earmarked for potential closure.
If closed, the campus would have a divestment value of $2.96 million.
North Coast Institute of TAFE director Elizabeth McGregor said if divested, the money saved would go back into the institute.
She also said a campus closure wouldn't mean TAFE leaving Murwillumbah, with other venues and online study options on the rise.
But Ms Bird said maintaining face-to-face education was crucial to students' success.
"People come to TAFE for their second chance," she said.
"They need somewhere they can come, where teachers are here, services are here."
Ms Bird, who used to be a teacher, said maintaining a cohesive physical presence in the town was essential for those students.
Last week, Ms McGregor said no jobs would be lost at Murwillumbah TAFE in the case of a campus closure, which she ruled out until after 2016.
Ms Bird said she hoped TAFE would guarantee the job security of casual and part-time staff, as well as full-timers.
"Sadly the reality in our TAFES for a long time now is that more and more people are employed on a casual basis," she said.
"I hope they do make guarantees to those people."
She said it would be devastating for Murwillumbah to lose the wealth of knowledge at the campus.
Mrs Elliot said TAFE's played an important role in regional centres like Murwillumbah.
"Labor has a really positive plan," Mrs Elliot said.
"We're really backing TAFE and backing training and we've made some really strong commitments about guaranteeing funding for TAFE.
"I condemn the North Coast Nationals for their disgraceful plan to close the Murwillumbah TAFE."
Nationals Member for Lismore Thomas George has been approached for comment.