Raising the BARR – Week ending 06 March 2020

For its next trick the Government plans to sell TAFE

I have dedicated many lines in this regular column to the recent struggles of TAFE since the introduction of the ironically named Smart and Skilled in 2012-2014.  For the past 7 years the Government has held the belief and strategy that by massively increasing the cost of going to TAFE, for example fees going from $500 up to $18,000, that TAFE would thrive.

Over these recent 7 years, under that Smart and Skilled model, student numbers at TAFE have fallen by more than 175,000, that is more than 25% of all students, and more than 5,700 staff have been sacked from TAFE, most of those in regional communities.

With TAFE now partially destroyed by the Smart and Skilled approach of ramping up fees and charges, one might think that this approach had not been the best approach and one might take some responsibility for the incredible skills shortage that is hurting business and communities.  But that would be normal person thinking.

In recent weeks, that Government have now suggested that TAFE might be best delivered by private corporations and hence they are exploring privatisation of TAFE.  Recently, in Parliament, the Premier was asked time after time to “rule out” the privatisation of TAFE and she would not do that.

In politics, Oppositions are often accused of scaremongering when Governments make their decisions.  But when all of the fears and concerns raised at the time come true, I wonder what the complete opposite of scaremongering is – perhaps it is, we tried to warn the Government and save them from themselves.

Don’t buy the blame being put onto Coronavirus and the Budget

Every household has the responsibility to go about their day to day activities using the money that they have available.  Equally, there should also be some money held aside in case of emergency, like the car breaking down, or less shifts at work or a broken fridge.

The current Government have, for 9 years now, been spending money like drunken sailors and signing multi-billion dollar contracts for projects that may or may not be in the public interest and that have no reserve of extra money held back in case of a cost blowout.

At the same time as this spending has occurred, the Government has also chosen to sell off public owned businesses and assets that used to provide reliable annual income which has made the state’s finances less capable of dealing with shocks and hiccups.

And all this time, the Government has chosen to ignore warnings about changing climate and the impact on “business as usual” and they have chosen to take money out of important public services like bio-security, trade training (TAFE), and regional employment of public servants that often keep communities “alive” during times of drought.

With all of this in mind, I have been warning that a financial train wreck was on its way for the state for most of the past 6 years.  I had specifically predicted that the train would crash around 2020, 2021 and 2022.  It’s not rocket science and just like running a household budget, it is predictable that cut off many streams of income, spend the money wildly and put nothing in the bank for a bad day that things will come crashing down.  For some reason, the 4 Government Treasurers in NSW, since 2011, have failed to apply the household budget ruler over the $80 billion dollar NSW budget.