POWER 30 - Gympie MP Tony Perrett.
POWER 30 - Gympie MP Tony Perrett. Philippe Coquerand

9 months after giving Gympie nod, insane TAFE fiasco lingers

THE State Government has been called on to tell Parliament what is happening with the missing lease of the Gympie TAFE building to the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Member for Gympie Tony Perrett lodged a question on notice this week calling on the Minister to clear up what was going on.

"The building is not wanted by TAFE and sits across the car park from the USC campus at the same site and signing a lease makes so much sense,” Mr Perrett said.

"It has been almost nine months since the new Minister for Training and Skills Development, Shannon Fentiman, gave us a conditionally positive indication that a lease was imminent and that the ridiculous impasse would be resolved.

"There were some faints signs of a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel when the Minister advised the Parliament in March that discussions had recommenced.

"I think that Gympie residents have been more than reasonable in giving the Minister time to get this fiasco sorted.

"We had three years of stonewalling, and now almost another year has passed and still nothing has happened.

"It is time we were told just what is going on. How hard does it have to be?

The Minister has until November 29 to advise the Parliament whether a lease has been granted to the USC so it can increase enrolments and courses on offer at their Gympie campus.

"We need to know if this Government is genuine and whether a lease will be in place for the start of the 2019 tertiary academic year.

"Taxpayers' dollars have been wasted as this building deteriorates while a willing tenant who will pay for a lease and refurbishment is begging to gain access.

"That is why I have also asked the Minster whether the government is contributing to the upgrade of the building given that it has deteriorated under the government's watch.

"It has also been asked to tell us and whether there are any outstanding issues regarding the granting of the lease and what are they.”

"Up until now we have had to put up with excuses, stonewalling, a flat out refusal to sign, a farcical episode of the Deputy Premier visiting the site without talking to locals and asking the Mayor for a 'creative solution' involving the GRC going into the tertiary education business.

"It is disappointing that almost four years have passed and without a lease yet another cohort of locals will have to move away or lose out on opportunities to go to university.

"Growing the local campus and courses will mean do much for locals unable to attend university because of distance and financial reasons for the high number of unemployed youth who want to gain skills, and for mature-aged students who are trying to upskill but are not able to move away because of work and family commitments,” he said.