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Labor's failed Federation Training 'rescue'

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Daniel Andrews’ TAFE ‘rescue’ has been a total sham.

A third of Federation Training's workforce was sacked with 182 full time equivalent staff losing their jobs at the TAFE in Labor's first year in office.  

Under Daniel Andrews the number of students undertaking training at Federation Training has reduced drastically, with 700,000 fewer student contact hours being offered.

The figures were revealed in Federation Training's 2015 annual report, which was tabled in Parliament more than a year late. 

For months, Training and Skills Minister Gayle Tierney has refused to answer basic questions about Federation Training’s staff numbers, student enrolments and its finances, suddenly claiming the information is “commercially sensitive”.

Seven out of the state’s 12 TAFE Institutes, including Federation Training, are relying on government bailouts to stay afloat.

Gayle Tierney has supported the closure of student services, the sacking of teachers and presided over a huge reduction in student numbers at Federation Training.

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Labor sparks Heyfield mill fire sale

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford still refuses to admit the Labor Government’s offer to buy the Heyfield mill is just smoke and mirrors.

In Parliament today, Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath asked the Minister why the Andrews Labor Government failed to make a commercially realistic offer to the mill that would secure the 260 local jobs.

But Ms Pulford failed to provide an answer, even refusing to answer simple questions about why she has been removed from the negotiations.

Australian Sustainable Hardwoods has confirmed the mill would wind down its operations from August due to “expected short supply of logs to the mill again this year” meaning 50 jobs would be lost a month earlier than initially thought.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh

Daniel Andrews and Jaala Pulford continually fail to provide Heyfield mill workers with any confidence Labor will fight for their jobs.

The Premier seems to be forcing a fire sale of the Heyfield mill after Labor’s changed timber policy undermined the business’ viability.

The Premier is putting possums before the jobs of 260 people and the wider Heyfield community.

Labor’s desperate attempt to secure greens preferences and create the Great Forest National Park by stealth has left the future of the Heyfield mill and Victoria’s forestry industry in jeopardy.

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Heyfield mill closure to begin early

Wednesday 14 June 2017

Australian Sustainable Hardwoods has announced today it will close its Heyfield mill earlier than planned.

ASH confirmed today the mill will wind down from August due to “VicForests expected short supply of logs to the mill again this year”.

At a recent hearing for the parliamentary inquiry into VicForests, VicForests Acting CEO Nathan Trushell confirmed the amount of timber available to industry has dropped by nearly 60,000m3 due to confirmed possum sightings and projected future sightings.

Mr Trushell also said the possum was being discovered at a rate “much higher than ever anticipated”.

There are 260 people employed at the Heyfield mill, while the mill’s operations support 7000 jobs down the line.

Leader of the Opposition Matthew Guy and Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull visited the Heyfield mill again today to speak with ASH.

Comments attributable to Leader of the Opposition Matthew Guy

The Liberal-Nationals understand the importance of this business to the Heyfield community and committed in February that an elected Liberal-Nationals government would keep the mill open and save these jobs.

Daniel Andrews' promise to fight for every Victorian job was clearly a lie. The Andrews government has presided over thousands of lost Gippsland jobs with no remorse for their failure to step in and save them.

Comments attributable to Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh

The Heyfield community and Victoria’s forestry industry have endured increasingly difficult conditions under a Labor Government more concerned with protecting possums than Victorian jobs.

The Premier for Melbourne is so desperate to keep his own job and the greens preferences that got him there that he is condemning 260 jobs in the Heyfield community.

Comments attributable to Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull

The closure of the Heyfield mill is devastating news for the workers, their families and the Heyfield community.

Daniel Andrews promised to visit Heyfield in February, but more than three months later he still refuses to show any support for our community.

The Premier for Melbourne fails to understand the mill doesn’t need a new owner to save these jobs, it needs a change in government policy.

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Labor can’t rescue its failed TAFE ‘rescue’

Wednesday 7 June 2017

Background

The Andrews Labor Government is scrambling to cover up its failed TAFE ‘rescue’, spending almost half a billion dollars to keep Victoria’s TAFEs afloat.

A Victorian Auditor-General’s annual Audit Snapshot, released today, shows Victoria’s training system is shrinking and becoming more reliant on State Government grants.

It found:

“The improvement in revenue in 2015 and 2016 has been driven by additional government grant funding, rather than growth in revenue. Student numbers continued to fall, and all other sources of revenue such as student fees and contestable funding declined in 2015 and 2016” (VAGO report, p17).

The report revealed Labor has handed out $490 million in grants to TAFEs in the past two years, but student numbers and training quality have worsened.

The Auditor-General flagged concerns that TAFEs had reduced “financial flexibility” with falling student numbers and income revenue.

The report also found the course funding provided by the Andrews Government was not sufficient to meet staff costs of most TAFEs.

Comments from Shadow Minister for Training, Skills and Apprenticeships Steph Ryan

Student numbers are plummeting, but Daniel Andrews and Gayle Tierney are still trying to tell Victorians their TAFE ‘rescue’ has been a success.

TAFE is weaker, not stronger, under Labor, to a point where they now rely more on State Government bailouts, than their own revenue, to stay afloat.

It’s clear Daniel Andrews’ TAFE ‘rescue’ has been a complete failure.

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Labor refuses to save forestry jobs

Thursday 1 June 2017

Background

The Andrews Labor Government could save thousands of forestry jobs in Victoria by reducing the size of ‘highly precautionary’ timber harvest exclusion zones.

At a parliamentary inquiry into VicForests, VicForests Acting CEO Nathan Trushell confirmed the Leadbeater’s Possum was being detected at a rate “much higher than ever anticipated”.

Mr Trushell also described the current 200m buffer zones as “highly precautionary and having a significant impact on industry”.

At May 18 this year, 617 Leadbeater’s Possum colonies had been recorded and an estimated 1851 individual possums found.

Mr Trushell also confirmed the amount of timber available to industry had dropped by nearly 60,000m3 because of possum sightings and projected sightings in the future.

The Andrews Labor Government is months overdue with a required review of the exclusion zones.

At a Parliamentary Accounts and Estimates Committee hearing today, Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford showed an embarrassing lack of understanding of her portfolio and had to refer to Department staff when questioned if she had seen the exclusion zone review.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh

Daniel Andrews has created this crisis in our forestry industry and is trying to force a fire sale of Heyfield’s mill instead of saving jobs and reducing the size of the exclusion zones.

Demand has never been higher for Victoria’s high-quality timber products but Daniel Andrews has put the industry in peril.

The 200m buffer zones were put in place at a time when Leadbeater’s possum numbers were unknown and they were supposed to be reviewed once 200 colonies were found but Daniel Andrews looks hell bent on creating the Great Forest National Park by stealth instead.

Daniel Andrews is sacrificing timber workers and their livelihoods because he is desperate to cling to power and needs city greens preferences next election.

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Labor refuses to release Fed Training details

Thursday 18 May 2017

Training and Skills Minister Gayle Tierney refused to provide basic information about Federation Training during a budget estimates hearing yesterday. 

Opposition MPs walked out of the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) in disgust after the Labor chair tried to rule a question about Federation Training's student numbers, staffing and finances out of order. 

Ms Tierney told the committee that she would not provide the information because it was "commercially sensitive", despite other TAFEs around the state publishing the same information in their annual reports. 

Labor's cover up comes after Federation Training failed for the second year in a row to publish its annual report, with no reports provided to Parliament for 2015 or 2016, putting it in breach of the Financial Management Act

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Training, Skills and Apprenticeships Steph Ryan

Labor is trying to hide the dire state of Federation Training by claiming data published by other TAFEs is suddenly commercially sensitive.  

It's no wonder Gayle Tierney and Harriet Shing don't want this information published when Federation Training has cut staff, courses and student support services. 

More than 123,000 students have disappeared from Victoria's training since Daniel Andrews became Premier and students now have less chance of finding a job.

Quotes attributable to The Nationals Member for Morwell Russell Northe

Labor has walked away from Federation Training when the Latrobe Valley has never needed it more. 

Under questioning in Parliament and at committee hearings, Gayle Tierney was incapable of answering even basic questions about Federation Training's finances and student numbers.

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Students less likely to find a job under Daniel Andrews

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Just half of students enrolled in vocational education and training in Victoria are more likely to get a job as a result of their training.

In a trainwreck performance before the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee, Training and Skills Minister Gayle Tierney said student numbers had declined because Labor was improving the quality of training. 

But just 50.6 per cent of students completing a VET qualification last year had improved employment prospects (Victorian Budget 2017-18, BP3, p188).

In 2014, 76 per cent of students graduating found employment within six months (Victorian Budget 2015-16, BP3, p365). 

Ms Tierney also refused to provide information on the number of students enrolled, staff numbers or the government funding provided to individual TAFEs, claiming the data was "commercially sensitive", despite such data having been published under successive governments. 

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Skills, Training and Apprenticeships Steph Ryan

Not only have we seen a 30 per cent decline in student enrolments, but under Daniel Andrews students are now less likely to find a job.

The Andrews Labor Government is desperately trying to cover up the dire state of the TAFE system in Victoria and its failed ‘rescue’.

More than 123,000 students have disappeared from Victoria's training since Daniel Andrews became Premier and students now have less chance of finding a job.

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Federal Govt delivers what Andrews Labor Govt refuses to

Wednesday 10 May 2017

Country Victorians will get the vital investments they need after the Federal Liberal Nationals Government delivered for the projects that Daniel Andrews refuses to fund.

Investments in rail and road infrastructure projects in regional Victoria and new agriculture initiatives for our primary producers were welcome commitments in Tuesday’s Federal Budget.

The $8bn inland freight rail line from Melbourne to Brisbane will take trucks off our roads and cut the cost for farmers to transport their product to port.

While Daniel Andrews refuses to spend a cent of State Government money on his $1.45bn wish list for regional rail, the Federal Liberal Nationals Government has invested $1bn in regional rail and other infrastructure projects.

This includes a $100 million investment in the north east rail line – five times more than was allocated in Labor’s unfunded wish list – and $290m for track duplications and upgrades on the Gippsland line.

These projects are fully funded and will deliver real benefits for country rail passengers who are sick of the Andrews Labor Government’s announce first, fund later approach.

I welcome the more than $4.1 billion investment in agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors and the $4bn Regional Investment Corporation which will support growth in our rural and regional communities.

The Federal Liberal Nationals have delivered where the Andrews Labor Government refuses to.

Regional Victorians deserve better than Labor’s offer of scraps off the table after the $9.7 billion sale of the Port of Melbourne lease.

The Federal Budget delivers funding and vision for infrastructure and rail for country Victorians who have been abandoned by the Labor Premier for Melbourne.

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No report from Gippsland’s Federation Training

Friday 5 May 2017

Daniel Andrews has abandoned Gippsland’s Federation Training at a time when a strong and stable training system has never been more important to the Latrobe Valley.

Skills and Training Minister Gayle Tierney tabled TAFE annual reports on Tuesday, minutes before the 2017-18 Victorian State Budget was announced.

For the second year in a row Federation Training has failed to publish an annual report.

Shadow Training, Skills and Apprenticeships Minister Steph Ryan said Daniel Andrews must immediately step in.

“The Latrobe Valley community can have no confidence in Federation Training’s financial stability, governance or performance when its annual report is more than 700 days late,” Ms Ryan said.

“At a time when youth unemployment has risen to 14.9 per cent, it’s important young people can have confidence in local training options.

“Student numbers have declined drastically across the Valley and after leaving the organisation to fend for itself for two years Daniel Andrews needs to step in and fix this crisis immediately.”

There were 2400 fewer Gippsland students in training in 2015, compared to 2014, according to the 2015 Victorian Training Market Data report.

Member for Morwell Russell Northe said higher education offered vital opportunities to reskill and upskill in the Latrobe Valley, after significant local business closures.

“At a time when we’ve lost 750 jobs at Hazelwood and hundreds more in the local forestry industry are facing uncertainty, we need a strong training system to make sure local people can reskill or upskill,” Mr Northe said.

“Daniel Andrews and Gayle Tierney must urgently offer Federation Training the support it needs to get the books sorted out.”

The 2017-18 State Budget papers reveal the Andrews Government has now cut $45 million from training and will review typical transparency measures that show there’s been a significant drop in students enrolled in training.

“Gayle Tierney is so distracted dealing with Victoria’s crime tsunami that she has dropped the ball on training,” Ms Ryan said.

“Daniel Andrews must immediately step in to offer Fed Training the support it needs to get up-to-date.” 

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Taxes up 20%, but Daniel Andrews cuts $45m from training

Wednesday 3 May 2017 

Victorians are now paying for ten new taxes under Daniel Andrews, but the funds won’t be used to fix the state’s broken training sector. 

Instead, Labor has cut $45 million from the state’s training budget, while thousands of young people drop out of vocational education in Victoria.

Under Daniel Andrews, there are now:

  • 122,597 fewer students enrolled in government-subsidised training
  • 168,432 fewer government-subsidised course enrolments
  • 56 million fewer student contact hours delivered

The participation of young people in training has also declined by 6.6 per cent.

Labor is so desperate to hide its failed TAFE ‘rescue’, that it plans to stop publishing training enrolment numbers and other key performance measures (Budget Paper No. 3, Output Performance Measures for Review, p363).

Daniel Andrews’ cuts to training are hurting young people who want to work towards a new career and the most vulnerable in our society.