THE additional $1 million revenue acquired from the 2 Flemington Drive TAFE campus sale will be spent on two new connected learning classrooms, new equipment and a new hair and beauty learning space at the Muswellbrook TAFE.
Muswellbrook TAFE will receive more than $300,000 worth of upgraded equipment including gas welders, welding bay extraction fans and auto-mechanical teaching equipment.
New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the sale of the Scone site has allowed greater investment in TAFE in the Upper Hunter and if needed, the government would be happy to be a future 2 Flemington Drive tenant.
“If you look at the numbers, enrolments are up 50 percent in Scone. It’s about the outcome rather than holding assets . . . this was never a decision about money, this was a decision made about outcomes,” Deputy Barilaro said.
“In hind-sight the $4 million that we got for the Scone TAFE site, all of it has now been spent in the Hunter, $3 million at the Scone TAFE CLC and another $1 million at Muswellbrook TAFE for hair and beauty components,” he said.
“I accept that locals may be upset about the $1 million not being spent in Scone but if you look at the initial $6.5 million investment, that came from other asset sales across the state. When we built the CLC that money wasn’t from anything that was sold locally, it was actually sales of what we call unused assets or undervalued assets,” he said.
“Even though we’ve sold the site to Racing NSW, if we outgrow that site and there’s an opportunity to do something out there, we’ll do something back at the old TAFE site. We’ve unlocked that investment, investing it back in Muswellbrook and Scone and if in future we need to do more, we’re happy to go out and be a tenant out there as well,” said Mr Barilaro.
Labor candidate for the Upper Hunter Jeff Drayton said the National Party has been embarrassed into committing additional funds for Muswellbrook TAFE.
“The strength of community concern over the future of skills training in this region has shamed the Nationals into finally announcing some funds for Muswellbrook TAFE and it’s not even new funding for the Upper Hunter, it’s the leftovers from the sale of Scone TAFE,” said Mr Drayton.
“The truth is, John Barilaro and David Layzell have championed the sale of Scone TAFE and the Nationals have sat on their hands for years with no vision for skills training in the Upper Hunter,” he said.
“This a knee-jerk reaction to a much bigger problem. Today’s announcement doesn’t change the fact that this Government has an agenda and track record of cutting TAFE courses and selling TAFE campuses and not being upfront about it,” he saiid.
Mr Barilaro said the $ 3million multi-trade hub at the Scone CLC will be necessary for the rapidly approaching industry changes.
“We need to be adaptable. I don’t think people realise how quickly this industry change will happen. As demand changes in mining and when demand changes other industries, some will be positive, some negative, some will be hard. You’ve got to become like Uber in the Taxi industry,” Mr Barilaro said.
“These multi-trade hubs, there’s going to be some base industries that are there permanently. Then we have mobile trade trailers. Let’s say you have a couple of people enrolled in plumbing but plumbing is not normally offered at the CLC, there are massive trailers at our major campuses geared up with equipment, which attach themselves to that particular trade and training at the hub,” he said.
“We’re trying to offer whatever we can across the state. It’s like Meccano Set, you just keep adding and pulling out as demand changes,” he said.
Initial planning has already commenced on the $1 million Muswellbrook facility with construction works to begin this year. The new equipment will be delivered by mid-2021 and the connected learning classrooms will be completed by mid-2022.
For more information on where candidates stand: Voting 101: Upper Hunter by-election.