Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — My question is to the Minister for Higher Education and Skills. Can the minister confirm that TAFE boards will need his approval to sell off assets or to sell off rural campuses to help meet funding shortfalls, and can he advise the house on his government’s policy on such sell-offs?
Hon. P. R. HALL (Minister for Higher Education and Skills) — Like universities, TAFE institutes need the permission of the minister when there is a significant sale of assets. That is how they have been dealt with in the past; they have such permission and that will continue to be so. I might add that during my time when significant assets have been sold, it has been by an arrangement whereby the proceeds of that sale have been reinvested in the TAFE institutes infrastructure.
That is the policy position as it has been, and it continues to stand.
Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — I think the minister has part answered my next question, but I will be seeking a commitment. I understand the minister’s department is providing advice to TAFE boards that they might need to seriously consider the rationalisation of assets. Will the government provide moneys to TAFEs so they are able to make the transition to its new world order for TAFEs, and in the selling off of assets will the moneys gained by these sales be put back into the local TAFE for increased provision, or will it simply go to Treasury?
The PRESIDENT — Order! It is interesting that the minister anticipated Ms Tierney’s question when her supplementary question is supposed to be responsive to his answer and not the other way around. At any rate, there were three questions in the supplementary question.
I suggest the minister might address the one that he thinks is the most pertinent.
Hon. P. R. HALL (Minister for Higher Education and Skills) — I think I can give one answer which encompasses the number of issues raised within the question. As I have said before, there is a process now where each TAFE institute is required to submit a transition plan — that is, a transition to the new funding arrangements with the government — and that transition plan will identify a whole range of issues, including the issues raised by Ms Tierney. Once those are known, the government will be responding. I confirm my answer to the original question that where there has been an asset sale undertaken by a TAFE institute, the practice has been that those moneys have been reinvested for infrastructure for that TAFE institute. I do not see any need to vary from that policy.