Daniel Andrews’ Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) is fighting the release of an obviously damning, and ignored, 2019 request from his own department to prepare an options paper for the future of Victoria’s TAFE system.
DPC is fighting tooth and nail to keep the document, a 14 January 2019 brief entitled Initiatives to secure the viability of Victoria’s TAFEs from becoming public, appealing an Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC) decision that it be released to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
It is clear why DPC is so determined to keep its request to present to Cabinet secret. According to the Auditor-General’s report, Results of 2019 Audits on the TAFE sector, expenditure by Victorian TAFEs increased by over $100 million due to free TAFE, whilst government operating grants decreased by $85 million, or 31 per cent, resulting in a loss of $116 million across the sector in one year. The year before, the TAFE sector recorded a healthy $67.7 million surplus.
As a result of the disastrous free TAFE funding model, and to avoid all of Victoria’s TAFEs being in the invidious and illegal position of trading while insolvent, letters of comfort to all 12 TAFEs were required to meet their employee costs and to provide adequate cash flow for their viability until April this year.
VACT will conduct a hearing to determine whether the brief, or parts of it, should be released, or whether it is to remain secret. The Liberal Nationals are determined that Victorians have a right to see these documents and will fight tooth and nail to end Andrews’ secret state.
The Initiatives to secure the viability of Victoria’s TAFEs brief is part of a long running Freedom of Information request by James Newbury MP.