Hall quick to dispel fears

FEARS Victoria could lose Federal Government support for the TAFE sector have been played down by State Skills Minister Peter Hall.

The minister received a “surprising” letter from Federal Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans, seeking assurance Victorian TAFE institutes would continue to remain viable in light of the recent budget cuts to the industry.

Mr Evans warned Victoria could stand to lose about $435 million in vocational education and training reforms, if it failed to meet all requirements of the Council of Australian Governments agreement, reached with the states last month.

However, Mr Hall was quick to dispel those fears, adding he was “particularly surprised” in the manner in which he had received the letter.

“We are confident we meet and even exceed the requirements of the COAG agreement,” Mr Hall said.

“There’s no reason to worry (about Victoria losing out on funding); I am absolutely and truly confident about it.”

A statement issued from Mr Evans’ office said the agreement signed by the Australian states last month, “explicitly recognises the importance of TAFE and the need for states to ensure that they continue to play an important role in delivering on the skills needs of industry”.

“The Victorian Government has to explain how TAFEs can remain viable and continue to deliver skills to industry and support regions, and communities in the face of these substantial cuts to their funding,” Mr Evans said.

However, a State Government spokesperson said while it welcomed the Federal Government’s investment, “the operation of the vocational education and training system is, as Minister Evans knows, a state responsibility”.

The spokesperson further added the State Government’s “refocusing” of its training efforts would make a difference to Victoria’s economy.