Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 10 Hansard (16 October) . . Page.. 2927..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
You have got to remember that it is this government that has managed to renegotiate major industrial arrangements, rates of pay and so on with VMOs, staff specialists and nurses without any industrial disputation, without any impact on care in the hospital system, without any impact on access to services; and we have done so at a time when restraint has needed to be exercised when it comes to wage outcomes.
That demonstrates this government's commitment to a constructive and collaborative approach with our medical and nursing professionals, and the fact that we have a low separation rate is further indication that those strategies are yielding results.
DR FOSKEY: My question is to the Minister for Education and Training and it is in regard to problems retaining and recruiting ACT teachers. I have had anecdotal evidence from multiple sources which suggests that teachers working in ACT colleges are leaving to work in the New South Wales system and that graduating teachers are choosing to apply for work in New South Wales rather than in the ACT. Could the minister please advise why teachers are choosing to join the New South Wales teaching service instead of the ACT's and why others are leaving the ACT system to work interstate or to work in other areas altogether, such as the public service?
MR BARR: I thank Dr Foskey for the question. I am not entirely sure where Dr Foskey is getting her information. It is certainly not the situation that the department of education is advising me of in relation to the latest recruitment round for the education department. In fact, I am advised that there were more than a thousand applications to teach in the ACT public education system and that somewhere in the vicinity of 200 to 250 positions are available for the 2008 school year. This continues a longstanding pattern whereby the number of applications far outweighs the number of positions that are available within our system. The ACT pays its teachers in the public education system at a rate equal to or higher than in any other jurisdiction in Australia. New South Wales is the next closest and in relation to, I think, one pay point on the scale, New South Wales teachers are about $300 a year ahead of those in the ACT.
It is interesting to observe pay claims that have been occurring in other jurisdictions. Most recently in Victoria the Victorian education union went forward with a pay claim to the Victorian government wanting a 30 per cent increase over three years, and one of the main reasons they put forward for needing a pay rise of that level was to keep up with pay rates in the ACT. In fact, this is what occurs in most other jurisdictions: the ACT is the trendsetter in terms of salaries and packages for teachers in the public education system. We maintain our position with the most recent EBA providing for an 111/2 per cent pay rise over 21/2 years, which means that ACT teachers are paid more than their colleagues in other jurisdictions and, in spite of the increased productivity that was part of the last EBA, still teach fewer face-to-face hours than their counterparts in New South Wales and in other jurisdictions and, perhaps most importantly, teach fewer face-to-face hours than their counterparts in the private system within the ACT.