As the NSW government completes another spectacular backflip on the Bega TAFE NSW campus’s future, it is completely understandable if you need a moment to pick your jaw back off the floor and catch up on the latest development.
On Monday, Assistant Minister for Skills Adam Marshall and Member for Bega Andrew Constance announced TAFE’s campus in Bega was to be shut down in favour of an “unrivalled” new TAFE facility. This may come as a surprise to some, as for several months the official response was this was not on the cards.
Let’s step back to August this year. When visiting Bega for the sod turning of TAFE’s new regional connected learning centre (CLC), Mr Marshall was asked if the current campus would close down in stage two of the CLC’s plans. He replied it was “most likely”, although it was yet to be determined.
Later that month, protesters gathered outside Bega TAFE calling for a guarantee the campus would not be closed or sold. In response, Mr Constance said there were no plans to close the existing buildings and the organisers behind the protest should “stop playing games”.
“I’d also hasten to reiterate there are no plans to sell Bega TAFE campus, even after the new connected learning centre is opened later this year,” a spokesperson for Mr Marshall said at the time.
In a media release late Monday, Ms Car and Labor’s candidate for Bega Leanne Atkinson said at budget estimates earlier this year the state government continually refused to rule out the sale or closure of TAFE campuses across NSW.
As of this week, there is a commitment to build a new $17million facility adjoining the CLC to allow the introduction of new courses and the shift of existing courses and facilities to the new site.
It does not appear those concerned about the future of the campus have been the ones playing games.
After all this the obvious question to ask, and has been asked by the community, the students, the union – for many months now – is why not just invest in the current campus and its existing facilities?