MEMBER for South West Coast Denis Napthine has warned of people jumping at shadows when talking about the cuts to South West TAFE.
Dr Napthine said the state government was investing $1.2 billion on vocational education and training.
He also questioned the motives of Warrnambool mayor Jacinta Ermacora and former TAFE chief executive Barry Baker, who last week placed an advertisement in The Standard saying the cuts were a serious mistake by the state government.
He said Cr Ermacora was a high-profile member of the Labor Party who was working to be re-elected and had a political agenda, while Mr Baker handed out how-to- vote cards for the Greens at the last election.
When asked if there would be cuts to TAFEs around the state, Dr Napthine replied that the state government was putting in more money to vocational training. He said the funding would ensure “real job outcomes”, build skills and assist local economies.
“We’re increasing the funding where it is needed,” he said.
He said South West TAFE, like all training institutes, was examining its program and coming forward with a plan, which would be looked at by a special panel.
He said it would be premature to discuss what was in its plan, but some media reports on the numbers of job losses had been wrong.
“We’ve got to be very careful of the misinformation that the union, Labor and the Greens are putting out for political purposes,” he said.
He said the board and employees at TAFE needed to be able to work through issues to ensure a sustainable vocational education system.
Last week it was confirmed the cuts would eliminate 15.5 effective full-time positions on top of the 28 positions scrapped about three months ago at the TAFE and there would be a loss of $7.2 million from its 2013 budget.
Cr Ermacora said as mayor it was her job to defend the rights of its residents without fear or favour.
“Minister Napthine’s comments are an insult to the 10 community and business people that signed the open letter, who care about education in our city,” she said.
“And more than anything, to play politics on an issue where 60 of our residents have lost their jobs and 2000 are estimated to not be able to afford training next year is fundamentally an abandonment of the city of Warrnambool and his role as our local member.”
Mr Baker said he wasn’t interested in the political agenda but was focused on the educational agenda.