Question - TAFE SA Tea Tree Gully


The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER (Morialta—Minister for Education) (15:20): Thank you, sir, and I thank the member for Newland for his question. I know that he has nothing on his mind every day he does this job other than the best interests of his constituents. He is, of course, somebody who is supportive of South Australia's training sector going forward.

Let me start by saying that TAFE SA, as part of the budget measures that were introduced yesterday, will continue to support students at all the campuses that are being closed. Their respective communities will also continue to be supported through relevant training being delivered locally, in workplaces, on farms on a number of occasions, online and through blended delivery. There has been a review that has shown low numbers of students at these campuses who could be more effectively supported through the use of other facilities or blended or online delivery or through being consolidated onto other campuses.

Of course, it is worth noting that, for every single dollar we spend in the training system, its purpose must be to connect young people, students and aged jobseekers looking for a new career to those careers, to those skills that will get them new jobs and, indeed, to support business and industry in those jobs. If the resources are being spent to maintain a building that is not necessarily fit for purpose, is past its use-by date or is not being utilised in an effective or efficient way, then that is money that is potentially not going to support the training needs of South Australians.

We have a grand ambition. We are spending $200 million extra on traineeships and apprentices in South Australia. We are spending $100 million on rescuing the TAFE SA organisation, but we are confident, very confident, that, as part of our renewed focus on delivering for TAFE on the needs of the students who are seeking jobs, we can, in fact, deliver more for them. Particularly at the Tea Tree Gully campus, the move from face-to-face to blended learning delivery and the relocation of the creative industries program—graphic design, screen and media, printing and photography—to the expanded AC Arts campus has significantly reduced the need for classroom space at Tea Tree Gully.

This, of course, started more than a year and a half ago. In semester 1 of 2017, there were 727 students on site at Tea Tree Gully. That had dropped to 470 by semester 2. In semester 1 this year, still under the previous government, that had dropped to 300. This move away from Tea Tree Gully was not something that was dreamed up last night. This is something that TAFE had been heading towards for some time. In semester 2 of 2018, there were 226 students.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order, members on my left!

The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: I note the interjections of those opposite, and I note the words of the former minister, who has criticised the government again today in the media: 'immediately instituted efficiencies by closing campuses'. She said:

I'm not convinced—the way in which vocational training is run needs a strategic re-think…these reports are very useful contributors to that, and I'd like to see the Government lead that conversation, rather than immediately closing campuses…

The reason I am confident, amongst others, that this work can be done effectively is that there is a previous government that has done some work on delivering TAFE courses off campus sites. Indeed, a former government closed TAFE campuses at Bordertown—where very little training activity was occurring, so the impact was minimal—Millicent, Naracoorte, Waikerie, Renmark, Gawler, Morphettville, Kimba, Clare, Cleve and Kangaroo Island. In many of these cases, the training was able to be delivered in different ways.

I was looking into who this former government was that closed these 11 TAFE campuses. Members may be interested to know that it was the Labor government in the last two years when the shadow minister for education was the minister responsible for TAFE—11 TAFE campus closures. More training is capable of being delivered when this campus is closed. Where was the outrage then?