LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Federation wins back rights

I am so pleased that our union has managed to win back the rights of injured teachers who had to use their sick pay to top up their salaries while being on workers compensation.

When the Coalition government passed these laws in 2012, there was no consideration given to how they would damage injured workers.

The laws were passed in haste with the primary motive being to make injured workers pay for a technical deficit in the scheme (that deficit has now been addressed and was never as bad as the government claimed).

At last we are seeing some justice being returned to injured workers, but why have they had to go through such continual stress and hardship caused by these laws? Nearly every gain had has had to be fought for in the courts because the amendments were poorly constructed and ideologically driven.

I commend the NSWTF for taking on this issue. Even though it has taken a long time, all teachers should acknowledge that our union is there for us when we cannot fight alone. After all, no one asks to be injured at work and anything that can make one’s life a bit better when this happens is most welcome.

Julie Bains
Retired

Bumper-sticker policies

Thank you, Maurie Mulheron, for your piece on buzzwords.

Everyone should read George Orwell’s excellent essay “Politics and the English language” to grasp what the neo-cons are trying to do. I have always tried to avoid using the latest buzzwords and slogans.

I am sick and tired of bumper-sticker slogans being used to push through failed Anglo-American policies: “Local Schools, Local Decisions”, “Quality Teaching” et cetera, ad nauseam, ad infinitum.

The neo-cons use language to con us into dropping our intellectual guard and we need to stay alert to their sophistry. We also need to be wary of those who so readily mouth weasel words, slogans and jargon. As Orwell observed, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

R. Linkiewicz
Wooloowae HS

Why foster debt?

It is difficult to understand the logic behind the Reserve Bank Governor’s decision to reduce interest rates further and the Treasurer, Joe Hockey’s call to people to “go out and spend”.

Debt is a major underlying problem in the community and yet it is being encouraged by these two advocated actions.

Low interest rates are hurting those who rely on investments to sustain a minimum standard of living.

Those on low incomes are also hit by the increase in excise on fuel, electricity charges placed on households regardless of how little power is used, the elimination of the tax offset for medical expenses and now the likely reduction in the Medicare rebate which will be of particular significance for those who are not “bulk-billed” and perhaps never have been for any medical services received.

It is difficult to understand how government can complain about reduced revenue while it eliminates the carbon and mining taxes and spends freely overseas using Australia’s defence personnel and equipment in the Middle East.

Bill Barwood
Retired

Let's keep assets

It appears the proposed sell-off of state-owned assets was an issue in the election results in Queensland.

Teachers and students, both former and current, need to know that the NSW Liberal Government, through the Minister for Finances and Services and Member for Castle Hill, Dominic Perrottet, is considering the sale of the Sydney CBD sandstone precinct.

This includes the building housing the Department of Education and Training that for many generations has been the bastion of public education, valued by many of us and our children.

This building must not be sold off. It houses much history. Let us safeguard our history.

Frances Macdonald
Retired

The truth behind free speech

I am amazed that our politicians can continue to claim that freedom of speech is an important part of our democracy.

The Australian version of freedom of speech allows owners of media outlets and editors to say exactly what they choose to maximise their profits.

They can ruthlessly invade privacy, destroy lives, and make outrageous statements. They report incidents in a manner designed to stir up extreme and dangerous factions in our society.

During this process they sacrifice the fundamental need for professionalism and balance that are so important in the process of responsible reporting.

An individual has no chance of having an opinion expressed unless it creates a story. The term “in the public interest” means that someone in the media will be making some money out of it.

Australia can never be considered a democracy until our media matures and embraces self-regulation.

Brian Jeffrey
Retired (and grumpy)

Make travel claims an election issue

Despite opposition from our union and others, back in 2012 the state government unilaterally removed WorkCover compensation for injuries sustained during travel to and from work — a policy pushed by the then-treasurer, Mike Baird, now our much-loved Premier.

Last year, I tripped and fell on my way home from Federation Council where I was representing my Association. One ankle broken and the other sprained meant a whole term off work and significant out-of-pocket expenses.

I would like to thank Federation for taking out insurance to protect us when we travel to Council given that we are no longer able to make journey claims under the Workers Compensation Act.

Thanks to Federation’s Welfare team I was made aware that I could submit a claim under the insurance policy. I would like to thank my Welfare Officer in particular for her hard work in assisting me with the paperwork.

Whatever the outcome from the insurance company, I am happier knowing that Federation has done its best to look after me.

It is good to see that Federation is campaigning to have the changes to workers compensation reversed.

I encourage everyone, in the lead-up to the state election, to contact your electorate candidates about this issue. It is particularly important for country members and others who have long journeys to and from school.

Jennifer Killen
Inner City TA

Carbon copy

Schools are not just for photo ops
Wyong Regional Chronicle — January 30

It is understandable that [Federal Member for Dobell, Liberal] Karen McNamara is trying to increase her profile before the federal election, given that Dobell is such a marginal seat and the that her state colleagues have caused such damage to the name, “Liberal”.

What I am finding particularly annoying, however, is that many of her photo ops have been at local public schools.

As a teacher, I have no problem with her highlighting the great work being done by my fellow colleagues, but if she really cared for the future of public education in our area she would speak out against the Abbott Government’s broken election promise that he would maintain the Gonski funding model past 2017.

Two-thirds of the Gonski money ($1.2 billion), targeted at improving the education of our most disadvantaged kids, was going to be delivered in the last two years of this six-year program.

The initial boost in money is making a real difference in schools and I would hope that if Karen McNamara really wants to see all kids in our local schools succeed, no matter where they come from or whether they have specific learning needs, she should support her state colleagues in the NSW parliament and support the full six-year funding program.

That’s where you can help our schools, Ms McNamara, not just use them to advance your profile.

Bernie Brian
Wyong
(Lake Munmorah HS)

Drift to private schools
Sydney Morning Herald

What a sad indictment of Australian society that it yearns for private education for their children. Sadly it is also an indictment of successive governments that private school funding has increased at a greater rate than public school funding. Both sides of politics have pandered to wealthy parents, or those who perceive themselves to have better social status by spending money privately. This has only deepened the gap between haves and have nots. Unfortunately it is the hard-working public schools and the families who attend them who miss out.

It is time to stop this nonsense of public funding two school systems, only one of which is open to all students regardless of background. One system properly funded does away with elitism and ensures every child has the best possible access to education. It is a universal necessity if educational standards are to be raised.

A bipartisan approach is essential. The continued support of governments for privatisation at the expense of public education is a vote-catching
exercise which has escalated to the extent that it will take determination on the part of government to solve the issue. The private school business has had too much influence over funding. It is time to stop.

Augusta Monroe
Life Member