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Protesters call for Upper Hunter MP to Save Our TAFE outside his office in Muswellbrook

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Former TAFE teachers, current teachers and representatives from the NSW Teachers Federation gathered in Muswellbrook today to protest the sale of the Scone TAFE NSW campus. 

There have been rumours for a while but now the NSW Government reveled they were selling the site last month through Colliers International.

2 Flemington Drive, Scone is for sale through expressions of interest that have closed today. Colliers International said on their website, the offering is available to market, subject to an existing tenancy with Local Land Services and a lease back to TAFE NSW over part of the property.

Phil Chadwick, the relieving Deputy Secretary for TAFE schools at the NSW Teacher's Federation said they were protesting outside Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen's office because he needs to turn this around.

"We are here because the NSW Government has put the fabulous facility, the world-class facility of Scone TAFE up on realestate.com.au for sale at less than replacement cost and unfortunately expressions of interest close for that sale today so we are here to raise awareness in the community of this absolute shame on the government that they are selling off Scone TAFE."

"We are confident that because of the community support we are receiving Michael Johnsen will eventually have to listen to the community and put the process on hold until there is meaningful consultation, throughout this entire process there has been no consultation with the community, and very little communication with teachers and absolutely no consultation whatsoever up until this point with the Teacher's Federation."

"When we see TAFE colleges go into the hands of private providers, those private providers tend to cherry pick the number of courses that are on scope and what happens is the broad range of courses that are being delivered there currently such as the farrier courses, the agriculture, the welding, the thoroughbred breeding courses, could be pushed aside for something more aligned to the equine industry," said Phil Chadwick.

"Can you actually believe that you can teach someone how to shoo a horse off a laptop?"

"These are hand on practical skills and the students deserve better."

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Upper Hunter Shire Council last night took the following position on the sale:

Council call upon the NSW Government to immediately cease any proposal to sell Scone TAFE.

The Council calls on Minister Geoff Lee for a full and comprehensive consultation with the community about the impact the sale of the TAFE will have on the future of jobs and skills in the Hunter.

Council request the findings of this transparent community consultation will be reported back to Council and the community.

"We're very pleased with the result out of Upper Hunter Shire Council, it's really good to see that one level of government has the interest of the public at heart," said Phil Chadwick. 

Mayor Maurice Collison agreed there hadn't been much consultation. 

"I think the important thing is that we don't lose any courses, maybe grow the courses, to me personally it's not overly important to me who actually owns it, but the long term lease agreements, and I mean long term, to make sure that everyone knows exactly whats happening in 10 or 15 years time," said Mayor Collison.

"What we've got is important to hold and to me there's no actual guarantee that's going to happen," he said. 

Malcom Ogg, former Deputy Mayor of Muswellbrook Shire Council and a former TAFE teacher said it's a disgrace the campus is getting sold. 

"The Scone TAFE is an integral part of the Scone community and needs to be respected and maintained."

"If I can use a practical example of need for people in regional NSW, when I first started in TAFE in 1982 I was teaching a course in Merriwa in welding and students were coming from Murrurundi, from anywhere up to 100 kilometres way just to spend four hours learning how to weld, now that shows a need for these people because there was no TAFE college there for them, now there's a TAFE college in Scone that provides those services which is in the process of being sold off and that is an absolute disgrace."

Image credit: Grant Broadcasters