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Issue #1717      February 3, 2016


The recently released NSW TAFE 2015 annual report has revealed the extent of the devastation in the sector. In June 2012, TAFE employed 15,822 teachers and support staff. By June 2015, this had dropped to 11,177. In three years, TAFE NSW has made 4,645 teachers and support staff redundant. All this is taking place against the background of high youth unemployment and a growing skills shortage. Instead of strengthening TAFE the policy of the NSW government has been to dismiss teachers, cut courses, close colleges, sell off assets and then transfer the savings to for-profit college owners. Those profiteers immediately engaged in dubious practices – enrolling people who could not possibly do courses and getting them into debts they could not possibly pay back. Some for-profit providers face courts, some had their contracts with the NSW government terminated. As for TAFE students – their fees have increased dramatically and that surge in TAFE fees has meant 83,000 fewer students have enrolled in TAFE NSW campuses since 2012. The government policy was called “Smart and Skilled”. As it turned out it was neither.

The Brazilian President personally intervened in the US$7 billion compensation claim against BHP Billiton so as to speed up the progress of the financial settlement for the worst environmental disaster Brazil had ever experienced when the tailings dam burst killing 17 people, destroying villages and poisoning water supplies. According to the local press the President set February 5 as a target for some form of settlement to be reached.

Tony Abbott, the ex-captain of Team Australia decided to spend Australia Day overseas. That’s OK, he is out of a job and nobody seems to be in a hurry to offer him anything. So the USA outfit called The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) paid for his travel to address the ADF (see Editorial). The ADF is known for its extreme fundamentalist religious views (of Christian variety). It is fiercely fighting against women’s right to have an abortion and it is anti-gay. The ADF’s stated goal is “to defend the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding and litigation”. It is very big on litigation and wants its religious zealots to move up the political food chain so as to implement their religious agenda in the public arena. Funding for the organisation comes from different sources with a similar viewpoint. One of them stated “man was created by a direct act of God in His image, not from previously existing creatures, and that all mankind sinned in Adam and Eve, the historical parents of the entire human race”. (Wikipedia). So this is the crowd that Abbott is addressing: it says a lot about his world view.

Next article – Region Briefs

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