HOPE: Gympie MP Tony Perrett, pictured with shadow Education Minister Jarrod Bleijie at the empty TAFE building.
HOPE: Gympie MP Tony Perrett, pictured with shadow Education Minister Jarrod Bleijie at the empty TAFE building. Renee Albrecht

Hope lingers on Gympie university expansion

GYMPIE MP Tony Perrett says there is a thin "sliver of light at the end of the tunnel" for a boost to Gympie's emerging education industry.

But there is still nothing certain on the issue of hopes expressed by the University of the Sunshine Coast for a lease on an empty TAFE building, adjacent to the university's Gympie campus.

A winding back of Gympie's TAFE presence in recent years had coincided with optimistic expansion plans by the University of the Sunshine Coast, which has said it wanted to lease the empty TAFE building to allow for its further expansion plans.

Mr Perrett yesterday said there were "faint signs of a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel." And that was better than nothing, he said.

But there had been no real progress, despite signs of co-operation last month by new Minister for Training, Shannon Fentiman.

"Everything was ready to be signed off three years ago," he said but Labor governments refused to give the USC its sought-after lease.

This was "nothing more than sheer political bastadry," Mr Perrett said.

"If the LNP had been elected last year the lease would have been already signed and the university would now have the keys.

"Nothing stopped the previous minister, Yvette D'Ath from granting a lease except for sheer bloody mindedness and a callous disregard for the needs of our local students."

"After three years of stonewalling and delaying, I wrote to the new minister in January.

"(She) advised me that officers from the department had contacted the USC." He had also asked a question in parliament and said even receiving a response was a welcome change. Ms Fentiman told the house her department had taken steps "to recommence discussions regarding the proposed lease" and was awaiting a response from the USC.

USC vice chancellor Greg Hill could not be contacted yesterday and. with parliament in session, nor could Ms Fentiman.