Illawarra MPs sickened over canned TAFE inquiry

"Outrageous", "disgraceful" and "disgusting" are some of the stinging rebukes Illawarra MPs have levelled over the last-minute cancellation of a Senate inquiry into TAFE in Wollongong on Tuesday.

The hearing had to be cancelled because not one Coalition senator could attend. Greens senator Lee Rhiannon still met concerned local TAFE teachers and students, but the region's MPs were furious the formal inquiry session was cancelled.

"It's absolutely outrageous the Liberal government would not allocate someone to meet with a region so heavily reliant on TAFE," said Member for Keira and NSW opposition spokesman for education and training, Ryan Park.

"It's an insult. That someone couldn't be bothered to make it to the meeting says a lot about what the Liberal Party think about the Illawarra."

Shellharbour MP Anna Watson, whose electorate includes at-threat Dapto TAFE, was also angry.

"I'm disgusted. It's shameful. They couldn't send one person?" she asked.

Member for Throsby Stephen Jones had questions of his own.

"What was more important, that kept them away?" he asked.

Cunningham MP and federal opposition spokeswoman for vocational education Sharon Bird said she was pleased the hearing was planned to be rescheduled, and even Kiama MP Gareth Ward had a word for his Coalition colleagues.

"They have an obligation to turn up to the meeting," he said, adding the people who fronted the hearing to give evidence "deserved an apology".

South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris, in attendance at Tuesday's meeting, travelled on Wednesday to give evidence at a Senate hearing in Sydney, which did go ahead.

"If there's one place this inquiry should visit, it's Wollongong," Mr Rorris said.

"People aren't impressed with the way things have gone."

Mr Rorris said the Sydney panel asked him to apologise to Wollongong locals inconvenienced by the cancellation, and looked forward to a rescheduled hearing.

A spokesperson for Senator Rhiannon confirmed she had tabled the evidence collected at her Wollongong meeting at the Sydney inquiry on Wednesday.

South West Sydney TAFE disability consultant Julie Tait. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

South West Sydney TAFE disability consultant Julie Tait. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN


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