The Guardian May 24, 2000


Seaforth TAFE College:
Picket line attacked, but solid as ever

by Peter Mac

A series of attacks on the picket line at Seaforth College of Technical and 
Further Education have failed to diminish the determination of teachers and 
supporters who oppose the sell-off of the College site, located in one of 
Sydney's northern beaches suburbs. The site is a prime piece of real estate 
located near Seaforth beach, and has long been coveted as a site for 
residential redevelopment.

Since its closure some time ago, the College site has been the subject of 
an angry confrontation between the NSW Government and those who maintain 
that the College is still perfectly viable as an educational institution, 
and that it serves an important local community function.

Despite community protests, the Seaforth site has now been the subject of 
preliminary surveying, presumably for redevelopment.

In a spate of incidents at the site, eggs have been thrown at picketers, 
organisers have received abusive faxes, and recently a four-wheel drive 
vehicle was driven into the picket line tent.

Although no one was injured, organisers are concerned at the increase in 
pressure on opponents of the sale of the College site.

NSW Teachers' Federation organiser Nicki Mercer said this week that extra 
measures would be taken to safeguard the site. She noted: "The Federation 
will be taking steps to protect the site in terms of barriers, and there's 
been a commitment from police for more surveillance."

The College is one of a number of TAFE institutions which have been 
targeted for disposal by the NSW Government. The TAFE system as a whole has 
been allowed to run down in recent years, and is now under the threat of 
piecemeal privatisation.

One positive outcome of the Seaforth struggle is that legislation has now 
been introduced into State Parliament which aims to ensure that no further 
sell-offs occur without proper community consultation. No such consultation 
occurred prior to the closure of the Seaforth College.

Meanwhile, local TAFE teachers were still solid in their opposition to the 
sale of the site. Ms Mercer noted "Teachers at both Brookvale and Seaforth 
are still solid in their support of the fight to reopen this very viable 
TAFE college."

Visitors to the picket are very welcome.

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