Question: Governance of TAFE Institutes

Written on the 22 April 2013

Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) -- My question is to the Minister for Higher Education and Skills, Mr Hall. Can the minister update the house on any important developments with respect to the governance of TAFE institutes?


Hon. P. R. HALL (Minister for Higher Education and Skills) -- I thank Ms Crozier for her question and her interest in vocational training here in Victoria. If members were observant yesterday, amongst the list of papers tabled in the Parliament was a list of the 14 stand-alone TAFE institutes' new constitutions. These are very important documents which establish exactly what the role of each of those 14 TAFE institutes is. Members of the opposition should be familiar with that legislative process given that it started in 2010 under the previous government, which put in place that process that would see the reconstituting and therefore the reappointment of all TAFE governing boards. Legislation passed by this Parliament last year finalised that process.


Yesterday there were a couple of significant milestones in terms of governing TAFE institutes. There was the tabling of constitutions, and I also had the pleasure yesterday afternoon, after Governor in Council approval, of announcing the chairs of the 14 stand-alone TAFE institutes in Victoria, who are all very capable people. I want to put on record the new chairs: for Advance TAFE, Scott Rossetti, for Bendigo TAFE, Margaret O'Rourke; for Box Hill Institute of TAFE, Suzanne Ewart; for Chisholm Institute of TAFE, Steven Marks; for GippsTAFE, John Mitchell; for GOTAFE, Michael Tehan; for Holmesglen Institute of TAFE, Peter Lewinsky, for Kangan Institute of TAFE, Michael Brown; for Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT), John Gibbins; for South West TAFE, Mike Weise; for SuniTAFE, Leonie Barrows; for Gordon TAFE, Brian Williamson; for William Angliss Institute, Michele Allan; and for Wodonga TAFE, Tony Brandt. Each of these people is very capable, but it seems to me that the opposition has been having a bit of a crack in the last week or so since they were announced, suggesting that some of them were not the best people to occupy those particular positions.


If that is still the case, opposition members should say so now if they do not think they are appropriate people; they should name them.


In its crack at this process last week it is interesting that the opposition suggested I was walking around the state sacking co-chairs of TAFE councils. Nothing could be further from the truth. The legislation requires the reappointment of every single TAFE council, and each of those positions was awarded on merit. I do not think the opposition was very sincere when its members did this, because at one particular stage the shadow minister, Steve Herbert, the member for Eltham in the Assembly, had a press release running all around the state for each of those chairs being occupied by somebody different. Their names were published on the ALP website, but now only two remain on the ALP website. It seems Labor has retracted many of those names; and perhaps there should be an explanation as to why that would be.


The two that sit there at the moment are Chisholm TAFE and Box Hill TAFE. Holmesglen TAFE and NMIT were quickly withdrawn, and others were as well.


I say to the opposition if it has a problem with those who the Governor in Council has appointed to those positions, let me know now. I also want to say that as part of this process the legislation requires me to appoint the first half of those TAFE councils and then consult with those councils on the balance of those boards. I inform members that the interim appointments that I have made without exception are existing members of boards prior to the changes that occurred yesterday. It is not that I am throwing all those people out; it is that I am recognising they have made a great contribution and, apart from two cases, previous chairs have accepted my invitation to continue. I thank them for it. I thank them for their new endeavours to ensure that TAFE institutes will be well led by new boards that are being appointed.

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