I rise this evening to speak on the Victorian Auditor-General’s 2014 report on technical and further education institutes, which was tabled last month. This report lays out starkly the clear-felling approach to vocational education taken by the former Liberal-Nationals coalition government.
In his cover letter to the Presiding Officers, the Auditor-General states:
The report demonstrates that the financial performance of the TAFE sector is in decline, with combined net deficits for the 2014 and 2013 financial years. Our indicators of financial sustainability risks show short-term challenges at six TAFEs and longer term risks emerging for nine TAFEs as spending on asset replacement and renewal is decreasing.
It could not be more stark. Audit reports are normally as dry as dust. This report states that half of the TAFE sector is at short-term risk and three-quarters of the sector is facing long-term risks.
Appendix C is the perfect place to start because it provides a snapshot of the Napthine years. I will look at South West TAFE as it is in my electorate and is also the electorate of the former Premier, Denis Napthine, the member for South-West Coast in the Assembly. In Victorian history has an electorate ever been more let down by a local member who was also Premier? Figure C8 on page 43 shows that in 2010 South West TAFE had a 12.06 per cent underlying result. Liquidity and capital — —
Ms Lovell — On a point of order, Acting President, I believe the member is reflecting on a member of the other house. I find it offensive, and I ask her to withdraw.
Mr Herbert — On the point of order, Acting President, I was listening quite intently, and there was no reflection on a member of the other house. There was simply mention of who represented the electorate.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Finn) — Order! I do not find any point of order. Ms Tierney did make a reference. It was not a pleasant reference, but I do not see it as a reflection. There is no point of order.
Ms TIERNEY — Liquidity and capital replacement were in the green, with an overall low risk assessment. Figure C7 for the year ending 2011 shows an overall low risk again. One would suggest that this is because during the Baillieu era the Liberal-Nationals coalition government was too lazy to wreck anything, as shown in figure C6, which outlines the first year of that era of sluggish inactivity — the Baillieu years. That inactivity was replaced by the action of the Napthine years. That action was, in essence, to wreck vocational education in this state. Massive cuts reflected the first loss for South West TAFE, and overall risk moved to the medium level.
Figure C5 shows that in 2013 everything except liquidity moved into the high-risk category, and the underlying result reversed from 12 per cent in the green to 12 per cent in the red. A decent government would have noticed such a rapid turnaround and put a stop to such carnage. Only four years prior, every TAFE in the state had had positive underlying results, yet barely two years into the new plan over half the sector was in the red.
I believe it was Einstein who said that the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Figure C4 on page 41 demonstrates that there were no Einsteins in the former government. It is a sea of red, meaning high risk, yet those opposite ploughed on with their agenda of cuts.