LAST night the New South Wales Teachers Federation held a community consultation forum about the recent sale of the Scone TAFE site.
See gallery and video below
Angelo Gavrielatos, president of the NSW Teachers Federation was joined by NSW Opposition Leader Jodi McKay, Greens MP and Education Spokesperson David Shoebridge, Assistant General Manager of NSW Public Services Troy Wright, Shadow Minister for Education Jihad Dib, President of the Country Women’s Association Bronwyn Dunston, Upper Hunter Shire Councillor Lee Watts and NSW Famers Scone President Tom Hunt in an open panel discussing the future of education in Scone.
Jodi McKay and David Shoebridge advised residents they will be forming a Parliamentary inquiry regarding the sale and urged Upper Hunter residents to use the power of their vote at the upcoming by-election.
The main issues discussed by MP’s, community representatives, and attendees at the forum included:
- The New South Wales Government officiated the sale under the guise of Michael Johnsen’s sex scandal, a day before he resigned from Parliament;
- TAFE teachers will be moving to ‘E Block’ which has been described as a “shed” facility on the campus, with no amenities, no staff offices, no tea room, no technology, or paddock areas. They must vacate this space within six weeks;
- The 2 Flemington Drive site was sold for $4million under the nose of teachers and students who were reportedly told the sale video was being filmed for maintenance check purposes;
- The $4million from the sale will not be used in Scone or surrounding areas. It will be spent in Newcastle and Belmont;
- Upper Hunter residents can use their by-election vote towards regaining the $4million sale revenue back into the shire;
- TAFE will be able to lease part of the site from Racing NSW for up to three years however, this is not a guaranteed deal and is wholly controlled by Racing NSW;
- Local producers and landholders are concerned the courses that help train their staff including chainsaw, machine handling, and veterinary nursing will be cut as they do not directly align with equine studies;
- The sale of the Scone TAFE campus may create a precedent for another regional campus to be sold off and replaced with Connected Learning Centres;
- Students of all ages will have to travel to gain certain industry skills, creating disadvantage and additional expenses for country people as well as the potential for them to attain jobs outside of their hometown;
- Some employers may not be able to afford to send their employees to Sydney, Dubbo or Newcastle to receive the necessary training for their continued employment, which may result in job cuts;
- The representative for Minister of Education Geoff Lee, Jason Darney, did not turn up to the forum;
- New 2021 students are concerned courses they have just enrolled in may not be locally available for them to complete;
- TAFE teachers have not been guided as to exactly what Racing NSW owns as part of the sale, for example, machinery and books left in classrooms.
Further details to follow.