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QTU President’s comment 29 Jan 2015

TAFE is a Queensland election issue

Today for the first time in almost 20 years TAFE teachers across Queensland have taken strike action, stopping work for 2 hours. Outrageous attempts by TAFE Queensland to bully and intimidate QTU TAFE members out of participating amounted to nought. In spite of the fear they felt QTU TAFE members turned out to voice their protests and publicise the disastrous affects of LNP policies on TAFE.

Rallies in various major centres have heard speeches about the attacks on TAFE by the Newman LNP government. My speech, presented at the Brisbane rally with more than 150 TAFE teachers and supporters in attendance, is typical of the message shared across the state.

Every Queensland has the chance to use their vote to save TAFE and we urge them to do so.

“Many of you here today are TAFE teachers and support staff, and I know that you are proud to work in the 132 year old institution called TAFE.

You are proud to have taught generations of Australians, of Queenslanders, who have built this country to be one of the largest economies in the world. You are rightly proud of your professional and vocational skills and knowledge as teachers in TAFE. Most of all you are proud of the students and their successes.

And those of us in the community who have not had the privilege to work in TAFE are proud of all you achieved.

The Queensland government however has systematically attacked TAFE over the past 3 years. This government has weakened the ability of TAFE to support the community. This government has cut into the ability of TAFE to support students. This government has undermined our youth and those returning to work. This government has stripped TAFE of its assets and is privatising them by stealth. This government has shut down, closed off and sold off TAFE campuses. This government has not made TAFE stronger.

Your professionalism and commitment has acted as a shield to these government policies for some time but no longer. All that is good about TAFE is at risk. TAFE as we know it will not withstand another 3 years of this LNP government.

This government’s acts are a shameful attack on the future of our state, our youth, our communities.

Today TAFE Teachers stand together as committed professionals and saying, “Enough!”

“Enough!” to fees increases : why are students paying thousands of dollars more in fees for the same or inferior courses

“Enough!” to blaming teachers: as late as last weekend, TAFE Queensland shamefully blamed the professional salaries of teachers for its financial troubles

“Enough!” theft of assets : give TAFE back its facilities and stop bleeding resources from TAFE through artificial rents for building TAFE once owned

“Enough!” to job losses : more than 1400 TAFE workers including almost 600 teachers have been forced out of their TAFE jobs by the LNP government since they were elected

“Enough!” to the attacks on services to regional Queensland and our most vulnerable citizens by denying access to TAFE in the interests of profits

“Enough!” to robbing the people of Queensland of the opportunities for a better future that TAFE can provide .

TAFE cannot survive another 3 years of the same. $90M has been stripped from Queensland VET already. Another $188M more is set to be stripped out of TAFE through the cessation of the TAFE owners grant and through TAFE having to pay the rent for the properties it once owned. TAFE cannot survive 3 years with those financial pressures! These LNP plans spell the end of the public provider of vocational education and training.

We are not alone in this struggle. Our colleagues in other Australian states are looking on in despair as they stand witness to the unprecedented attacks on TAFE in Queensland. While similar treatment is being visited upon them they know that the policies of the Queensland government are a trial for the worst that is yet to be done to them.

Our friends and colleagues from other unions, especially Together, and the Queensland Council of Unions stand with us today to protest these LNP policies because they value TAFE and they know what we stand to lose if the Newman government is not stopped.

Other political parties have come out in support of TAFE and vowed to reverse the destructive policies of the Newman government. Labor and the Greens are here with us today.

By being here, we are all calling for a stop to TAFE cuts. We call for support for our communities, for building the future for our state. TAFE is an election issue and every citizen has a duty to use their vote to register their protest against these attacks on TAFE. Put the LNP last and number every box to vote to save TAFE.”

Kevin Bates