A new TAFE campus would be built at Nelson Bay if the coalition government is returned to power at the March election, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says.
The announcement came on Friday, when Ms Berejiklian joined Liberal candidate for Port Stephens Jaimie Abbott to make the election commitment.
Ms Berejiklian said her party would choose a site and begin to build the new campus in the next term of government, if elected, and she would not rule out the prospect of the new education facility being up and running before the following election.
She called it a "significant investment".
"TAFE campuses are the beating hearts of our country communities and provide access to the education and training people need to get a job and get ahead," she said.
Port Stephens mayor Ryan Palmer said Port Stephens Council had "a couple of sites" it had earmarked as possible locations for the TAFE, including the Donald Street East carpark.
Ms Abbott said the announcement was "a game-changer".
"As it stands, many locals have to travel for an hour to access the courses they wish to study at either Maitland or Newcastle," she said.
"This is about giving people the chance to study right here locally and removing barriers to education and training."
Labor Port Stephens MP Kate Washington criticised the announcement.
"On the eve of an election, the Premier has promised a new TAFE campus – but no land has been purchased, no site has been identified, no planning work has begun, and no timeline has been committed to," she said.
"To add insult to injury, the Liberal candidate seems unaware that there is already a local TAFE. The Tomaree Education Centre was purpose-built to include a primary school, a secondary school and TAFE. Those facilities are still there, but this government has refused to provide adequate resources to run the TAFE courses we need."
Ms Abbott said it was "disappointing to see the local Labor MP opposes plans to deliver a world-class TAFE campus".
"The current TAFE presence in Tomaree is incredibly limited, operating out of just two rooms and offering only a handful of courses. It seems the Labor MP is content with this," she said.
A budget has not yet been finalised but it is being compared to similar projects, which have cost up to $7 million.
But Ms Washington said $7 million would build "a shop front, not a campus", arguing a proposed Medowie High School was costed at $40 million.
She said that $7 million should instead be invested in existing facilities.
In news today: