Swinburne University of Technology: Lilydale campus

I raise a matter for the Minister for Higher Education and Skills. The action I seek is that the minister immediately intervene to ensure the continued operation of Swinburne University of Technology’s Lilydale TAFE and university campus. The tragic outcome of the Baillieu government’s ripping $290 million out of the TAFE sector is being felt across the state. The opposition warned the government that campuses would close, fees would skyrocket, staff would be sacked and students would suffer. That is the reality we face today following this unprecedented attack on TAFE.

I will read out a quote:

Institutions such as Swinburne university have a strong vocational emphasis and close links with industry ensure that their study programs keep pace with developments in commercial and community sector. The courses on offer at Swinburne have been invaluable in helping young people in the Yarra Ranges go on to fascinating careers. It would be a travesty if the success of these programs were undermined …

These are comments made by the member for Evelyn in 2008, yet this is exactly what the member and her government are delivering in 2012.

Earlier today members heard the Premier say that the closure of Swinburne, Lilydale, is part of its reform and that the courses that have closed did not deliver employment outcomes.

The member for Evelyn and local businesses would attest —

Businesses across the Yarra Ranges, the outer eastern metropolitan region and beyond into regional Victoria know that Swinburne delivered employment outcomes: jobs for students and employees for local businesses. The government also maintains that this was a decision of Swinburne and not of the government. What absolute rot!

The vice-chancellor of Swinburne University of Technology says in a letter:

As a result of decisions of the Victorian government … Swinburne’s revenue arising from VET provision will decline ... the aggregate change in Swinburne’s income … is in the order of $35 million per annum.

The letter goes on to discuss ‘ how Swinburne responded’. That is what we are talking about: how Swinburne responded to the government’s cuts.

The minister must intervene, not at the point at which Swinburne is seeking to offload its assets, which is what he spoke about this week in question time in the other place, but now, before the site becomes a ghost town and there are empty buildings rotting away. He needs to intervene now to save Swinburne University of Technology’s Lilydale campus.