Is the Liberal Party TasTAFE policy really privatisation?

While both major State political parties wrestle with the idea of whether or not plans for TasTAFE to become a Government Business Enterprise means privatisation, we break down the facts.

Here’s what the Parliament of Australia website tells us what a Government Business Enterprise (GBE) is and how they operate: “Like private companies, GBEs engage in commercial activity with the goal of profit-making, often in competition with other private sector companies”. (Reference: Parliamentary Library)

This means as a GBE, TasTAFE campuses and courses would have to return a profit or risk closure.

The profit requirement is reinforced in Tasmanian law, which states that “The principal objectives of a Government Business Enterprise are – achieving a sustainable commercial rate of return that maximises value for the State”. (link)

The Australian Parliamentary Library also tells us a GBE “creates a barrier to the usual mechanisms of parliamentary accountability and control”.

The policy recommendation of PESRAC adopted by the Liberal Party states that they will “re-establish TasTAFE as a government business under the control and accountability of its Board of Directors, with authority and power to employ its workforce under the Fair Work Act 2009.” (link)

This means TasTAFE teachers and staff would be fully privatised and removed from the public sector. The Tasmanian Government would be unable to recruit or employ teachers because that authority would be given away. Under their own policy, Peter Gutwein and the Liberal Party would be unable to keep their promise to recruit 100 new TasTAFE teachers.

The Fair Work Act is for private companies, not teachers providing public education and training for all Tasmanians.

The PESRAC policy adopted by the Liberal Party also states that the proposed TasTAFE business board will have “maximum operational and capital expenditure flexibility, including over corporate services and infrastructure”. (link)

Just as giving away the employment of teachers means the Liberal Party can’t promise to employ teachers, giving away decision making over TasTAFE infrastructure means they cannot keep their promises on new buildings, refurbishments and campus improvements.

Overall, the Liberal Party policy takes TasTAFE out of Tasmania’s hands and gives employment, infrastructure and decision making over to private directors and CEO who must make decisions for profit, not for the benefit of Tasmanians.

Decision making would become commercialised, while the benefits of public education and training to industry, students and communities are lost.

A privatised workforce, privatised commercial decision making, profit motivation over public benefit and taking TasTAFE out of Tasmania’s hands – when combined, it’s quite clear the Liberal Party’s TAFE policy is privatisation in anyone’s language.

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