‘I’m not going quietly’: TAFE chief

The chief executive of Holmesglen TAFE has accused the state government of doing more damage to the training sector than any of its predecessors during his 31 years in the job.
Nanjing Night Net

Bruce Mackenzie has announced his retirement and will leave the job when Holmesglen finds a replacement, which is expected to happen later this year.

He lashed out at the government for its $300 million cuts to the sector last year. “I’m not going to go quietly,” he said. “This government has done far more financial damage to TAFE than any other government I’ve worked with. No question about that.”

Mr Mackenzie criticised the “policy vacuum creating enormous uncertainty in the TAFE sector” but said he was confident Holmesglen would continue to be an “enterprising” institute.

Holmesglen is one of Australia’s biggest providers of vocational training.

Mr Mackenzie also called for one jurisdiction to oversee the TAFE sector because a “disconnect” between the state and federal governments was failing Australia.

He said international students who wanted to study at Australian TAFE institutes found it too difficult to obtain visas, holding back the training sector.

A spokesman for Higher Education and Skills Minister, Peter Hall, said Mr Mackenzie had been an outstanding contributor to the training system and had “never been afraid to push the boundaries”.

“The government thanks him for his contribution over three decades and wishes him well,” he said.

“The government looks forward to working with the board of Holmesglen and their new leadership team in driving the institution forward to even greater heights.”

Mr Mackenzie’s impending retirement comes after the government sacked at least half of Victoria’s 14 TAFE chairmen late last month.

Fairfax Media can reveal that Brimbank Council administrator Peter Lewinsky will take over from sacked chairman Jonathan Forster, who is executive chairman of the Kane construction company.

Mr Hall’s spokesman said Mr Lewinsky had been elected by Holmesglen’s board as interim chairman.

Opposition spokesman for higher education and skills, Steve Herbert, said Mr Mackenzie’s resignation was a great loss to training in Victoria.

“Bruce was undoubtedly one of, if not the most, highly respected TAFE chief executives in the country,” he said. “He’s been one of the strongest advocates for the TAFE system in this country.”

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