Murwillumbah TAFE on the chopping block
The Tweed Daily News has obtained a copy of the 'Cabinet in Confidence' document containing proposed divestment for TAFE NSW for the 2015 - 2016 financial year, with anticipated total proceeds from asset sales of $63m.
Murwillumbah TAFE's full site is being considered for divestment at a value of $2.96m.
Consolidation of delivery will be to the Kingscliff Campus, the report states.
Other proposed North Coast divestments included: Great Lakes ($1.48m, partial site), Maclean ($1.24m, full site), Taree ($0.24m, partial site), Trenayr ($1.85m, full site), and Ballina ($1.24m, partial site).
INITIAL REPORT 10.30am:
It's been claimed Murwillumbah TAFE could be closed.
It comes after cuts to the Murwillumbah Hospital, Local Court House and confirmation from Lismore MP Thomas George there could be further cuts to services in the town.
Tweed Shire Mayor and the Murwillumbah community have responded in outrage to claims in a Fairfax report over the weekend that a number of NSW campuses are earmarked for sale or downsizing by the state government, including Murwillumbah.
Murwillumbah mother Jilleen Wallace-Jones said her autistic son will have no alternatives to study without North Coast TAFE on Murwillumbah St.
"If the TAFE closes, we will be moving as a TAFE is a must for my son.
"Daily trips to Kingscliff cost us an extra $70 in fuel a week as the only bus service to Kingscliff TAFE goes there (through) Tweed Heads and takes two hours from Murwillumbah.
"(It's) something my son can not cope with as he feels trapped and claustrophobic in a bus. I would have to go with him. Please don't let this happen to us," she wrote on social media.
Mayor Gary Bagnall said the Tweed Shire Council had not been consulted on the cut.
"My understanding is that this is a cabinet leak and it has not been confirmed by the minister, National Party MP Adrian Piccoli," Cr Bagnall said.
"I have written to the minister this morning demanding to know what is going on.
"I also call on our local member Thomas George to fight for us, and to keep us informed, that is what he is there for.
"If it was true it would be a terrible blow, not only for Murwillumbah, but for the whole shire.
"Murwillumbah and the rest of the shire need our young people and mature aged persons to be skilled workers and that happens in TAFE.
"Hundreds of skilled workers have come out of this TAFE over the years. We have problems with unemployment, lack of business and empty shops."
North Coast Greens spokesperson and Federal candidate for Richmond Dawn Walker said the cuts will hurt already disadvantaged students in the education system.
"Communities like Murwillumbah with high levels of unemployment are in line to lose TAFE facilities which will be a blow to our young people at a time they are struggling to make their way in the world," Ms Walker said.
"This has come at a bad time for Murwillumbah which has recently suffered cuts to the police service, cuts to the hospital services and cuts to the court service.
"Now this. Murwillumbah TAFE is an integral part of our community and cannot be lost.
"National MPs Thomas George and Geoff Provest need to explain why they are turning their backs on our region at a time we need a strong voice in parliament.
Mr George and Skills MP John Balilaro have been contacted by phone and email for a response.
Here's what we asked them:
How can the state government justify this cut?
Why has there been no consultation on the closure or sale of the asset?
When will the consultation be?
How many will lose jobs from the closure and how many pupils will need to find education elsewhere?
When will the closure or downsize take place?
How much money will the government make for the sale or closure?
The community, including the mother of an autistic child, who use the education facility are outraged this is being considered - how will you represent your constituents in getting education services back to Murwillumbah?
What plans do you have in place for disadvantaged students who rely on Murwillumbah TAFE?
Are you aware that the closest alternatives is at Kingscliff TAFE - 30 minutes away by car and two hours public transport?
Why are so many cuts being made to Murwillumbah, including courthouse sitting hours, children's ward opening hours, and most recently - the birthing ward?
Has Murwillumbah been earmarked for further cuts?
A spokesperson for the office of Mr Balilaro said "This is an operational matter for TAFE".
The NSW Teachers Federation has also been contacted for comment.