Pollies queried on education issues

Maurie Mulheron

Leaders of the three major political parties in NSW have been invited to outline their education policies for the March 16 edition of Education. The edition will also carry Federation’s commentary on the parties’ policies.

The Coalition, ALP and Greens leaders have been advised that members are particularly interested in their positions on Federation’s priority matters (see panel below).

In term 4 last year, Federation met with the Education Minister as well as the ALP shadow minister and the Greens spokesperson to canvass a range of issues Federation is pursuing as part of the state election campaign. Subsequently, all three addressed Federation’s November Council.

Federation members are asked to press their local candidates on public education policy by writing letters or organising delegations.

Contact your Federation Organiser or your Federation Representative or members of your Workplace Committee for more information.

Federation members are participating in the Unions NSW campaign across the state in opposition to the privatisation agenda of the Baird Government.

Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon said the campaign is about quality public services that are under threat by the Baird Government’s agenda that includes privatising the electricity network, hospitals and TAFE.

The Unions NSW campaign involves speaking directly to the community at railway stations, weekend markets, street stalls as well as door-knocking and letterboxing.

This grassroots campaign will also be supported by statewide radio, print and television advertising that includes an important message about protecting TAFE.

There is no doubt that the extraordinary result in the recent Queensland state election is concentrating the minds of many politicians who have so unquestionably, to date, accepted economic orthodoxies such as public asset sell-offs, privatisation and attacks on the public sector.

March 28 will provide an opportunity for the voters of NSW to send a clear message that the ownership of state assets must remain in the hands of the public as the privatisation of assets only benefits huge corporations.

Priorities for the election

  • Maintaining NSW TAFE as the major, high-quality provider of vocational education and training by increasing funding, capping student fees and limiting the level of contestable funding available to private, for-profit training companies
  • Removing the 2.5 per cent salary cap on public sector employees and restoring the right to a fair and independent hearing of a salaries case in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission
  • Maintaining a statewide school staffing agreement that ensures the supply of qualified teachers to all students, especially those in harder to staff locations, protects current class sizes and ensures permanent employment for teachers
  • Ensuring that students with disability have access to specialist teachers and places in special classes and schools, and securing the extra funding that was pledged by the Federal Government through the Gonski loading for students with disability
  • Lifting investment in public school capital works and maintenance to ensure all students can learn in quality classrooms with modern facilities and equipment
  • Action to convince the Federal Government to fund the fifth and sixth years of the NSW National Education Reform Agreement (the Gonski agreement).