Communist Party of Australia

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Issue #1597      June 12, 2013

Rally to save Swinburne’s Lilydale Campus

A rally to save Swinburne’s Lilydale Campus from being sold off to become council offices has been called by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) for 2 pm on June 14.

The campus is scheduled for closure on July 1 as a result of the Victorian government’s $300 million cut to TAFE funding last year. Josh Cullinan, NTEU industrial officer at Swinburne University of Technology, said that in the past week the NTEU had uncovered two startling discoveries in the campaign, Keep Our Campus Alive.

“At the Yarra Valley Educational Precinct meeting last week the Yarra Ranges Council CEO announced he had been secretly negotiating with Swinburne and local Liberal politicians to shut the campus,” Cullinan said. “In an astounding admission, the Yarra Ranges Council Management Executive had even started to seek planning permission from the Liberal Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, to rezone the Swinburne University site away from education.

“To fund the purchase, it would appear Yarra Ranges Council intends to levy ratepayers. Council Executive Management proposes to pay Swinburne to take over the campus for Yarra Ranges Council’s new offices.”

Cullinan said that at Senate Estimates this week, the Commonwealth Department for Higher Education acknowledged that Swinburne had not received “prior written approval” to close the Lilydale campus.

“This means that Swinburne is potentially in breach of its federal funding agreement worth millions of dollars per year. The bureaucrats told the Senate Estimates Committee that the Commonwealth ‘has not raised any objections to this point in time’.” 

The NTEU has writen to the Prime Minister seeking an unequivocal guarantee that the Commonwealth will not grant Swinburne written approval to close the campus.

“This will become the single biggest election issue Melbourne’s outer east has ever seen. We are shocked that Tony Smith, the Federal Liberal MP for the region, has not been fighting for our campus in Canberra,” Cullinan said.

“We are not just waiting for the Feds, however. We’re calling for the whole community to join us in defending the Lilydale campus.

“We have found out the Swinburne Vice Chancellor is hosting Liberal politicians and Council management at a party to shut the campus. We’re not going quietly so we encourage everyone from the community to come together and deliver a very clear message that our campus is not for sale!”

Save Swinburne Lilydale Campus Rally – 2pm Friday June 14, Jarlo Drive, Lilydale. All welcome. Dress appropriate for the weather.  

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