Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 14 Hansard (Wednesday, 7 December 2011) . . Page.. 5829 ..
And even more glaring, much of the motion is factually incorrect. The motion includes the usual platitudes trotted out by Labor about the significant role that teachers play in delivering positive educational outcomes for ACT students. I say “platitudes” when such lines come from those opposite because everything this government have done in their interference with teachers demonstrates clearly that they do not believe teachers play a significant role. Or if they do believe their role is important they have a funny way of showing their appreciation for that role.
Let me quote some of the media headings in recent months on the question of salary negotiations between the former education minister and teachers: “Teachers strike again over pay”, “Sick and tired teachers vent pay anger”, and “The best teachers won’t stay for the worst pay”. As the Canberra Times noted in September this year:
Civic Square resembled an unruly classroom yesterday as angry public school teachers shouted their frustrations at the ACT Government.
More than 1500 Australian Education Union members crowded outside the ACT Legislative Assembly in a three-hour rally that highlighted teachers’ determination to achieve pay parity with NSW.
Glenn Fowler, acting secretary, said at the rally:
MLAs, there is a ruckus outside your building because teachers have had enough … We are sick and tired of having to make this stand over and over. We are sick and tired of having to sing for our supper.
Those comments come from a group that one would assume is the natural friend of a Labor government. This is a union saying, “We are tired of being treated like dirt by this Labor government.”
When a Labor MLA stands in this place and waxes on about the significant role that teachers play in delivering positive educational outcomes for ACT students, one has to respond with “bunkum”. This year we have seen a rally and two teacher strikes. One can only wonder whether, had the former minister not wanted to clear the decks for a new minister, the stalling might have dragged on even longer than it did.
Only a few months ago we had a minister suggest that it was tough luck if teachers did not agree with his approach to teacher absence reporting. So much for appreciating the significant role that teachers play. Former education minister Andrew Barr was not happy to just penalise teachers who were not filling in their leave forms appropriately; he decided to keep all teachers in and make them write lines. The teachers had the last say because they refused to do any of it. So much for the concerns of the audit process in the name of which it was taken.
This motion suggests a number of things that are not, frankly, correct. Yes, the AEU ACT branch council has endorsed the in-principle ETD teaching staff agreement. But there are some documents and the detailed wording to be finalised. Then the agreement will go to a ballot early in the 2012 school year. The first pay increase is not quite at parity with New South Wales for each step on the scale. If we are going to