Contesting Baird’s contestability

Steve O'brien at the rally.

NSW premier Bruce Baird was confronted by 200 TAFE students, teachers and supporters when he visited Newcastle’s Hamilton TAFE campus on February 16.

His visit was to inaugurate the offices of the Hunter Business Chamber, which have been relocated to Hamilton TAFE.

Significantly, the old TAFE signage out the front of the campus has been replaced with a sign that reads “Australian Business Apprenticeship Centre”.

Save Our Rail (SOR) campaigners also supported the demonstration. A meeting of more than 400 people at Newcastle City Hall on February 11 vowed to continue the fight to reopen the rail line into Newcastle and stop developers grabbing the valuable rail corridor land.

Disability support workers, who face losing their jobs under the National Disability Insurance Scheme’s privatisation agenda, also supported the lunchtime rally.

Labor politicians also turned up in force. The ALP wants to cap the amount of public funds for which private vocation education providers can contest at 30%. For their part the Greens support 20% contestability.

However, the Public Service Association, which represents TAFE support workers, says that the state should fully guarantee funding for TAFE and does not support contestability.

Thirty cents in every public dollar that goes to a private vocational education provider ends up in a shareholder’s pocket rather than a student’s education. No matter how it is dressed up - leasing, contestability, asset recycling, private/public partnerships, ‘truncated’ rails lines etc. – privatisation is privatisation.
The contestability I support is 0%.

Steve O’Brien, is the Socialist Alliance candidate for Newcastle, a TAFE worker and PSA member.

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