‘Gloves Off’ As Southland Leaders Fight Govt Over SIT Polytechnic Merger

Aug 01, 2019
2554 Views

Invercargill leaders are upset with the government’s decision to merge the country’s polytechnics, saying it will kill off Southland’s already successful model.

Stand up for SIT campaign director Carla Forbes said “The minister is deaf to Southland – it’s appalling the minister has ‘chosen’ not to listen to Southland. Our submissions have not been included in his summary of submissions. There is minimal detail, in his announcement.

Except  a huge amount of rhetoric, lots of great words without substance there is no detail at all! It’s very disappointing. I’m speaking with numerous parties already and the message I’m hearing from locals is a sentiment of disappointment at the ministers disregard for Southland and also devastation for the future of our region. The negative ripple effect of this is heartbreaking for Southland.

Listen: Stand up for SIT campaign director Carla Forbes spoke to Alex Perrottet.

We are already mobilising, and again southlanders are impressing me with there desire to fight for our asset. It’s simply to important; and once again my phone is ringing red hot. This most certainly is not over

Forbes said, 48% of unique submissions supported the Institute (although, including form and campaign submissions particularly from the Stand Up for SIT (Southland Institute of Technology) campaign, only 20% of submissions were in support).

Watch: Southern Institute of Technology chief executive officer Penny Simmonds discuss todays decision by Education Minister Chris Hipkins.

Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie: said “I am furious at the Government’s decision to centralize our successful and performing SIT into a mega polytechnic – taking away our autonomy, stealing our assets and destroying our special character. This will have a devastating impact on our city and province including job losses, stifling our economy and ripping the heart from our community. I will see Labour/NZ First on the hustings – National will overturn this and give SIT back to Southland and apprenticeships back to industry”.

Stuff quoted Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt: Mayor Tim Shadbolt said he was in “absolute disbelief they could do such a terrible thing to our city” and said legal action would be taken against the decision.

“They have really ripped the heart out of Invercargill with this announcement.”

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker: “Today’s announcement of the Government’s reform of vocational education through the centralisation of polytechs is another blow to rural and regional New Zealand, Mr Walker says. It is the people in regions who know the needs of their people best, not a long list of public servants in Wellington. Community assets will be taken away, decision-making powers will be lost and as a result, Telford will be disadvantaged. Telford’s long-term proposal was turned down because of this reform which will now cause further damage to Clutha-Southland and its workforce. This creates further uncertainty for staff and students at Telford who have already been through enough This is a very bad decision from this Government and it is the rural communities who are suffering as a result.”

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