EXCLUSIVE: LNP joins TAFE Centre of Excellence funding fight
EXCLUSIVE: AN ELECTED LNP State Government would fully fund the Central Queensland TAFE Centre of Excellence.
CQUniversity estimated the 26,000 sq m centre at its North Rockhampton campus would take three years to build and would train 1,100 apprentices by 2025.
It expected the associated jobs to number 350 during the centre’s construction and 300 during its operation.
LNP leader Deb Frecklington said her $49.8 million investment would create a new one-stop shop for post-school education and training in Central Queensland.
“This will truly be a blue-collar university to get Central Queensland working again,” she said.
“It will form part of a world-class smart precinct in North Rockhampton consisting of a manufacturing hub and new Central Queensland School of Mining and Manufacturing.”
Ms Frecklington said given Queensland had the highest unemployment rate in the country, infrastructure projects, such as the TAFE centre were needed to “lead Queensland out of recession”.
The Labor Party previously announced it would put $8.4 million towards the first stage of the centre’s construction.
Member for Rockhampton Barry O’Rourke said Labor had put more than $150 million since 2017 into TAFE campuses across the state.
He said that in contrast, the LNP “ripped $170 million from TAFE, sacked 2,100 staff, and priced 40,000 Queenslanders out of a TAFE qualification” when it was last in power.
“While Queenslanders won’t ultimately own facilities CQU builds with government funding, we are committed to continuing this partnership to ensure Central Queenslanders can continue to access subsidised and fully-funded courses through CQU,” Mr O’Rourke said.
“So it’s nice to hear that the LNP can commit almost $50 million to a university, but not a single dollar to TAFE Queensland - the one actually owned by Queenslanders - or in more subsidised training places.
“So we get a shiny new training facility but no students because no one will be able to afford to study.”
LNP candidate for Keppel Adrian de Groot said Labor had short-changed Central Queensland and local manufacturing and resources jobs for five years.
“Labor’s paltry $8.4m commitment won’t get the job done,” Mr de Groot said.
“In stark contrast, the LNP’s plan will lead to a blue-collar jobs bonanza across Central Queensland.
“It’s time for action to drive jobs in agriculture, construction and manufacturing.”
CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Nick Klomp welcomed the LNP’s announcement.
“Today’s commitment from the LNP provides reassurance to the region, our students, and their employers, that we now have a commitment from both major parties to build this much-needed facility,” he said.
“I thank Deb Frecklington and the LNP for recognising CQUniversity’s vision for the future of TAFE in Central Queensland, and for rising to the occasion via this funding commitment.”
Last week, CQUniversity called for all sides of politics to commit to funding the TAFE Centre of Excellence.
At the time, Rockhampton’s One Nation candidate Torin O’Brien wanted to know where the money was coming from.
“Everyone is making enormous promises with no way to pay,” he said.
Greens candidate Mick Jones supported the TAFE centre, saying that “it’s important that we make sure the people we train are given good jobs with decent conditions, and that the wealth they create stays in CQ”.
Legalise Cannabis Queensland candidate Laura Barnard said the centre would provide “economic momentum”, and KAP candidate Christian Shepherd, whose party has $50 million on offer, said it would “help us meet existing trade demand and address skills shortages”.