Page 799 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 6 April 2022

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It is the responsibility of the Education Directorate to ensure that its schools are properly resourced—

and you could equally say that it is the responsibility of the minister; that is the way the Westminster system works—

for the program they are expected to run, and for the needs of their students. They have failed to uphold this responsibility.

The union continues:

The fact that it takes a staff member to be seriously injured and the intervention of an external regulator to provide a degree of safety for the staff and students of the Calwell High School demonstrates a lack of care on the part of the Education Directorate.

The union is saying there is a lack of care from the government, and you lot are saying there is nothing to see here. The minister spent most of her speech reading out fluffy visions—nothing to do with Calwell and irrelevant to the debate. There is the dis-link, and the ability for the whole lot of you to come into this place and say, “Everything’s okay; it’s all being acted on; it’s an isolated incident.” It is an isolated incident? Even Mr Rattenbury did not get those speaking notes. At least he accepted that this is not an isolated incident. This is systemic, ongoing and long term. That is what the union is saying.

The union’s concern is that the minister and the directorate have not acted. If they had acted, we would not be in this situation. A minister that does not act, when kids’ safety is at stake, when teachers’ safety is at stake, does not deserve to be a minister in any government.

“Regrettably, the situation at Calwell High School is not an isolated case,” the union say. They are getting SOS calls from across schools. They say, “They are all too frequent when resources are further and further stretched.” The AEU’s concerns have been ignored. That is what they are saying. They have not been responded to. This is the point. We are not naive to the fact that there are issues. We are not saying that COVID has not caused problems; of course it has, and that required action. The union are saying that that action was not forthcoming. If the minister and her directorate had responded effectively and had listened to the union and done what was required, we would not be in this circumstance, but we are.

At what threshold will you hold a minister accountable in this government? When you have the union saying that action was not taken, when you have the union saying they were not listened to and responded to, and you have the safety of staff and children being compromised through that negligence, through that inaction, what is your threshold? What is the Greens’ threshold to actually hold a minister of this government accountable? Shame on you. If you are not going to put kids first, and teachers first, we will do so. We will continue to fight for children. We will continue to fight for our teachers. You lot can say your fluffy words in here, and make speeches that are a chasm away from the reality of staff and children on the ground. (Time expired.)

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