TAFE hikes to be reversed under Labor

ASSURANCE: Opposition Leader John Robertson promised to stop cuts to TAFE.HIKES to TAFE fees would be reversed under a Labor government to stop students being priced out of training, Opposition Leader John Robertson has pledged in his budget reply speech.

Course costs are set to rise from next year, but fees would be capped at 2014 levels and there would be no increases above inflation if Labor won office next March.

“Labor will always treat TAFE as a central part of our public education system and we will never try to run it as a business,” Mr Robertson told Parliament yesterday.

“We will stop the mass sackings, cuts to courses and the massive fee increases to ensure we have a fair and affordable vocational education and training system in NSW.”

Mr Robertson cited cuts to welder and boilermaking courses and the elimination of the HSC syllabus from TAFE in the Hunter.

Budget papers show the government is forecasting nearly 23,000 fewer enrolments in TAFE this year.

But Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said the change was part of normal fluctuations in enrolments.

Mr Robertson also used his speech to accuse the Baird government of “blackmailing the people of NSW into accepting the privatisation of our electricity network” and Premier Mike Baird of failing to stand up to Prime Minister Tony Abbott over federal cuts to funding for NSW.

Mr Baird has said the partial lease of the poles and wires could raise $20 billion for infrastructure spending.

Mr Robertson said Tuesday’s budget provided funding for nearly 70 planning and feasibility studies rather than infrastructure.

“They’ve employed an army of consultants, they’ve produced more animations than Walt Disney and Pixar,” he said.

Electricity privatisation would not raise enough money to pay for all of Mr Baird’s “fantasy projects” but would increase household power bills.

He said the “people of the Hunter will be lucky to see a third of the proceeds of the Newcastle port privatisation” while the National Party had “rolled over on electricity privatisation to their puppet masters in Sydney”.

The government has said the lease will include conditions that power prices remain 1 per cent lower than maximum regulated prices until 2019.

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