The Shire of Surf Coast recently made a submission to the Victorian Parliament’s Economic Development Infrastructure Committee as part of its inquiry into local economic development initiatives in Victoria. A number of local councils made submissions detailing their views on assistance measures and barriers to economic development and infrastructure in their region. The Surf Coast shire made it a particular point to outline the detrimental impacts the Baillieu government’s callous funding cuts to the TAFE system are having on the shire and on regional Victoria. The Surf Coast shire submission states:
“The reduction in training programs through TAFE is considered a major blow to small business growth and reduces the opportunity for business to train employees, especially in an age of innovation and technology.
A stronger focus on education is necessary, not only for employees but also for business owners …”
The shire’s submission tells a story that is being felt right across the state, and echoes are loud and clear from all sectors of the community. It is only those on the other side who are not listening. The member for South Barwon in the Assembly, whose electorate covers part of the Surf Coast shire, was recently quoted in the Geelong Times in an article headed ‘The member for soft news’. Responding to the TAFE cuts he is quoted as saying:
“…funding cuts to courses such as personal training and aromatherapy were necessary as ‘We’re matching training where there are job vacancies’.”
I suggest the member for South Barwon read the shire’s submission to understand the disastrous impacts this decision is having on the South Barwon electorate rather than sticking his head in the sand and pretending that these cuts will affect only a few courses, like personal training and aromatherapy.