Around 200 people gathered outside Geelong’s Mercure Function Centre at midday today to protest the restructuring of TAFE funding announced in the 2012-13 state budget.
Those present included members of the Australian Education Union, National Tertiary Education Union, Australian Services Union, Electrical Trades Union, Communications Electrical Plumbing Union, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and the Maritime Union of Australia.
The protest was planned to coincide with Premier Ted Baillieu’s address to the 2012 Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry Regional Business Convention, which was being hosted at the Mercure Hotel. Baillieu was scheduled to speak to the convention at midday but, as one speaker informed the crowd, at short notice rescheduled his address for earlier in the day.
All was not lost. Gordon staff members Steven North and Gabby Brennan, state secretary of the NTEU Colin Long, and secretary of Geelong Trades Hall Tim Gooden addressed the moderate but vocal crowd who responded to the objections to TAFE funding cuts and calls to oust the Baillieu government at the next election with applause and intermittent honks from compressed-gas foghorns.
The protest concluded at 12.40pm. Soon thereafter the crowd dispersed and Myers St reopened to traffic.