TAFE slams members

CRITICISED: Jacinta Allan and Maree Edwards with the survey they conducted.

CRITICISED: Jacinta Allan and Maree Edwards with the survey they conducted.

BENDIGO TAFE has accused local Labor members Jacinta Allan and Maree Edwards of playing politics over the TAFE's possible merger with the Kangan Institute.

Acting chief executive Peter Coyne said on Thursday that a survey the pair conducted on Wednesday afternoon was "unreasonable" and "emotive".

"I think the survey, if that's what you would call it ... basically (involved) stopping people and asking them to respond to an emotive question," he said.

"It is not a fair way to gain an insight into the community's views.

"There are sensible ways to make informed decisions ... this is political.

"I would expect more from our local members."

Ms Allan and Ms Edwards conducted the survey over a period of about two hours on Wednesday afternoon at Bendigo Marketplace shopping centre.

The pair asked passers-by three questions, consisting of "Where do you live?", "Were you aware of Denis Napthine and the Liberal government's cuts to Bendigo TAFE?" and "Do you support a takeover of Bendigo TAFE by a Melbourne metropolitan TAFE?"

Ms Allan and Ms Edwards said 100 people chose to participate in the survey and an overwhelming majority - 66 per cent - opposed the TAFE being "taken over".

A further 20 per cent were unsure of how they felt about the issue.

At a press conference on Wednesday morning Ms Allan and Ms Edwards said they would urge Premier Denis Napthine to conduct a community consultation on the issue.

"We will also be writing to the mayor of the City of Greater Bendigo (Barry Lyons) urging the council to join with us in demanding the Napthine government urgently consult the community on its plans for Bendigo TAFE to be run from Melbourne under the Kangan umbrella," Ms Edwards said.

When questioned why the government should intervene, Ms Allan said, "Bendigo TAFE is a public education provider ... It has served the Bendigo community for 160 years.

"Given that history ... the Bendigo community absolutely has a right to have its say on the future of its TAFE."

Higher Education Minister Nick Wakeling said the government would not be telling the TAFE what they should or should not be doing.

"We've made it very clear that TAFEs have their own board structures and are best placed to consult with their local communities.

"People should be reminded that the challenges facing institutions like Bendigo TAFE is a direct result of Labor's failure to support them during the introduction of its 'demand driven system' in 2008. 

"We're working with TAFEs to make sure they are well placed to compete in the current market." 

City of Greater Bendigo mayor Barry Lyons said he would support a community consultation but was yet to determine his view on the issue.

He said he would welcome a discussion with both Ms Edwards and Ms Allan as well as Bendigo TAFE representatives.

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