THE government defended their sale of the Scone TAFE campus this morning, before announcing a $3 million investment to build a multi-trade hub at the Scone Connected Learning Centre (CLC).
Peter V’Landys, Racing NSW Chief Executive Officer and new owner of the Flemington Drive site, said he approached Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee years ago to discuss the TAFE campus.
“I’ve never seen a greater beat up in relation to the sale of TAFE as this one. It was a transparent process, it was ancillary to the needs of TAFE and we bid with other bidders to purchase it, so I can’t see where all this drama has come from,” Mr. Vlandys said.
“The meeting I had with Minister Lee was a professional meeting in relation to delivering TAFE courses. I approached him. I was aware this was ancillary to the TAFE, the minister at the time wasn’t aware,” he said.
“He said to me, ‘look, let me look into it for you, if it’s ancillary we’ll look into it,’ and that was two or three years ago, it didn’t happen overnight,” he said.
“For the government to maximise its return for this site, it needed to do a confidential bidding process . . . naturally we were going to bid for it if we own all the land around it,” said Mr. V’Landys.
Mr. Lee said he was “absolutely delighted” that Racing NSW was the successful tender of an open and transparent sale.
“Certainly we went out to industries and consulted prior to the sale,” Mr. Lee said.
“We were very open and transparent, we put it on the market, there was a tender process at arms length, as it should be from the ministerial office and then they put it on the market,” he said.
Mr. V’Landys said Racing NSW will be dramatically expanding the Flemington Drive site to increase employment opportunities, whilst still delivering “anything that TAFE asks us.”
“Racing NSW and the racing industry employ unskilled labour, this labour is hard to find work elsewhere, but they are employed by the racing industry,” Mr. V’Landys said.
“This will be a small part of a major development . . . it will bring a lot more new jobs, it will have new stables, it will have new tracks,” he said.
“If there is a demand for courses, we will provide them and we will work with TAFE to deliver those courses. We will deliver anything that TAFE asks us,” he said.
“Don’t ever think the government will not have any say . . . we will have expertise from this area, but the NSW Government, indirectly, still has control of racing in this state,” said Mr. V’Landys.
Part of the TAFE sale proceeds will go towards building a $3 million multi-trades hub at the Scone CLC for hands-on courses including agriculture, horticulture, fixing chainsaws and wool classing.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the two announcements today will help debunk some of the “myths” about the future of TAFE in Scone.
“Where TAFE sells its assets, it remains in TAFE for other assets,” Mr. Barilaro said.
“I know the opposition has said that the $4 million from the old TAFE site should be spent here, they should actually say we should pull $5 million out because we’ve actually spent all up, $9.5 million on this site,” he said.
“Students are telling us they want to use technology . . . the Scone CLC is offering all channels of education and training, all channel delivery driven by one goal and that is the outcome for the student,” he said.
Minister Lee commended Deputy Barilaro on his Connected Learning Centre “brain-child” but stated he will not be accepting the request from Shadow Minister for Skills and TAFE Jihad Dib, to have an open debate on the future of TAFE services in Scone.
“Already we have a debate scheduled for the first week in Parliament. I’m not going to play their political games or support their lies, they’ve been misleading people on this sale for a long time now, we’ve called them out on it I wont dignify their union rally,” Mr. Lee said.
“Certainly those mistruths they’ve put out are absolutely ridiculous, things like you’ll not be able to use the toilets or we’re going to go through and steal textbooks. They’re just making it up as they’re going along,” he said.
“The Shadow Minister can come and see me anytime, in fact I see him a couple of times a week, I’m more than happy to chat any time he wants to chat,” said Mr. Lee.
An agreement is in place for TAFE to remain on the 2 Flemington Drive site for three years.
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