Swinburne University of Technology: Lilydale and Prahran campuses

Yesterday was another milestone in the community’s campaign to save the Swinburne University campuses at Lilydale and Prahran. A petition signed by a massive 15 002 people was handed to the Leader of the Opposition. It was compiled by students at the Lilydale and Prahran campuses, the National Tertiary Education Union and the broader community. Congratulations to Aime Watson and her colleagues. This petition adds to the largest petition I have ever circulated in the seat of Monbulk, of some 2800 signatures, and the 25 000-strong petition tabled by the opposition leader last sitting week. This issue has resonated unlike any other in my 10 years as a member; the community outrage is quite extraordinary. This issue is not going away.

The Premier and government members do not have the courage to take responsibility for the impact of their cuts, and as hard as the Premier tries to lay blame elsewhere, the community knows who delivered this devastating outcome. They cut $290 million out of TAFE. For Swinburne that meant a loss of $35 million, and as a result the closure of the campuses at Prahran and Lilydale. The Premier comes in here and talks about the need for courses to reflect the needs of local industry. In my community those needs are hospitality, business administration, tourism and events, and horticulture. All of those are gone because of the Baillieu government. The first people who responded to me were the owners of local businesses, restaurants and tourist outlets. They were absolutely horrified that the employees they used to get from Swinburne are no longer going to be available.