The Labor-Greens dominated Senate committee chaired by Gavin Marshall (ALP-Vic) examining the South Australian TAFE shambles is holding but one hearing, in Sydney this Friday afternoon. As to what it will hear, who knows late yesterday the programme was not public.
There are undoubtedly many good reasons why– but none of them occurred to Education and Training Minister (and SA senator) Simon Birmingham, who discussed the committee on Adelaide radio yesterday; “The public, the media, have a right to be able see these proceedings, hear these proceedings, participate in these proceedings, not have them a couple of thousand kilometres away, well out of the sight of most South Australians,” he said.
The state of SA TAFE, is certainly a problem for the local Labor government as it prepares for an election. Senator Birmingham has criticised successive local ministers, starting with Gail Gago, who quarantined 60 000 of 80 000 federally funded training places to TAFE, to help the system improve performance. “We are supporting TAFE SA while it transitions to more innovative and flexible training provision that better responds to community and industry needs and is more sustainable in a competitive market,” she said back in 2015 (CMM, May 26).
Sadly, this does not appear to have happened in all areas, with the Australian Skills Quality Authority telling the Senate committee that an audit of SA TAFE; “identified critical and systemic non-compliances across the training examined. Non-compliances related to marketing, training and assessment strategies, assessment systems and trainer and assessor skills.”
This is also a problem for federal Labor, which uses TAFE as a synonym for training and talks of more funding for it. But as SA TAFE demonstrates, it is not just more money, it is how it is spent.