Lismore diocese and a local parish will foot the $700,000 bill for a technical college at Port Macquarie after the Federal government withdrew funding.
The Camden Courier reports the diocese is seeking to secure the future of the Australian Technical College in Port Macquarie, following the Federal Government’s decision to withdraw funding to the 26 colleges around Australia.
St Agnes parish, Port Macquarie and Lismore diocese will foot the $700,000 annual bill for the local college, a project to which they contributed more than $8 million for its establishment.
The Port Macquarie Teachers' Association (PMTA) called for the college to be integrated into the public education system. The association wants to make ATC funding a by-election issue.
A delegation met with independent candidate Rob Oakeshott at the end of July over the application of the Lismore diocese to take over ownership and rename the "publicly funded" Port Macquarie ATC.
Michael Trotter, president of the PMTA, said the diocese move was a local example of the gap in infrastructure funding between the public and private education sectors. He said latest research shows this inequity will widen further in the future.
The Greens’ candidate for Lyne Susie Russell supports the PMTA, calling for the ATC funding to be spent in TAFE colleges.
"The Port Macquarie/Taree ATCs received $19.9 million in federal funding but only enrolled about 300 students," Ms Russell said.
Independent candidate Rob Oakeshott said the future of the site needed to be secured beyond 2009 when the Federal Government’s funding runs out.
"The reality is the building exists, the certificate of titles is in the hands of Catholic Education and there are 350 students and 43 staff who are unsure about their future," he said.
"I have therefore invited the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education Julia Gillard to visit the area, meet with the various interested groups and see the facility first hand. This should help in making a sensible decision for the future of our local community."
The Port Macquarie ATC began in 2006 when the Commonwealth took over control of the former St Joseph’s Vocational College.
ATC principal Adam Spencer said the college is owned by the Lismore Diocese and has always had an open enrolment policy.
Move to secure Australian Technical college future in Port (Camden Courier, 13/8/08)