Backlash halts TAFE ag college sell-off

A SELL-OFF of some large-scale Glenormiston College equipment has been reversed by South West TAFE following concerns from community leaders.

An equine treadmill conditioner, steriline training gates and a large-scale generator had been advertised for sale by TAFE, a month out from the institution finishing up at the former agricultural college.

Administrators decided yesterday to withdraw both the conditioner and the training gates from sale, although the generator remains on the market. Past employees claimed the expensive pieces of equipment were purchased during Melbourne University’s tenure at Glenormiston which was brought to a close eight years ago.

South West TAFE subsequently took over the reins before deciding last year to leave Glenormiston College due to a lack of demand for agricultural courses.

Corangamite Shire mayor Chris O’Connor, who yesterday raised concerns over the depletion of resources at the site, said he was relieved TAFE management had decided to reverse the decision.

“I’ve met with representatives from South West TAFE and have been assured that the sale was an oversight,” Cr O’Connor said.

“I was guaranteed that TAFE would make sure it only sold property that it had purchased during its time at Glenormiston.

“It’s pleasing to see that it’s been resolved so quickly.”     

In a statement, South West TAFE chief executive Peter Helibuth said the two items were removed from sale on Wednesday after it was discovered the equipment pre-dated TAFE’s tenancy.

“We have said from the outset that it has never been our intention to remove or sell assets that pre-date South West TAFE’s tenure at Glenormiston,” he wrote. 

“This remains the case. Obviously, we retain the right to move or sell equipment that we purchased.”

Former college head of campus Doug McLean confirmed yesterday he signed off on the purchase of an equine treadmill conditioner and starting gates during the 2004-05 financial year, prior to TAFE taking over the reins.

“I was head of campus and signed off on the purchase of both the conditioner and gates,” Mr McLean said. 

“We purchased the gates in the 2004-05 financial year and they were delivered around the time I finished up in June 2005.

“The college purchased the gates the year before that, so both items were acquired under the University of Melbourne banner.”

Mr McLean said Glenormiston College’s funding streams switched from federally-commissioned higher education grants to state-administered TAFE grants in the early 2000s.

“Certainly by that time (when the items were purchased), the money would have come from the TAFE stream but nonetheless it was under TAFE cash allocated to the University of Melbourne rather than South West TAFE,” he said.

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