Simon Birmingham has not had many free kick chances lately but the federal minister for education and training still knows them when he sees them. Like the continuing debacle in South Australian TAFE, where federal regulator ASQA found 14 out of 16 courses were crook.
It looks part of a years-old pattern. Back in 2015 then state minister Gail Gago gave TAFE a near-monopoly on publicly, (some of it federally) funded courses while it worked out “how to better respond” to community and industry needs.
Yesterday Senator Birmingham called for a Senate inquiry into SA TAFE and the chamber agreed. With a state-election imminent this is very good for South Australian Senator Birmingham’s local Liberal colleagues but it is good for him as well. All year the federal opposition has used TAFE as a synonym for training, arguing that all will be well if only there was more money for public providers. This mess gives Senator Birmingham a point to make, that across higher and further education, giving out money without competition and regulation does not work.