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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 1 December 2021) . . Page.. 3985 ..


I hope that there are parliamentarians and representatives of progressive political movements right across the country who have the opportunity to take part in this debate. I know friends and colleagues in the New South Wales state parliament, the South Australian state parliament and especially the Queensland state parliament who would not believe me if I told them that we were debating a motion from a Liberal member that included phrases like “the union said” or “Wage theft is an issue in modern Australia.”

Let this be testament to the value of re-electing progressive Labor-Greens governments time and time again. You don’t just get progressive Labor-Greens government and the progressive policy that comes with it; you get a slightly more palatable Liberal Party as well. It really is double action voting if ever I saw it. It is really impressive.

While there is a lot of fodder available for me to use in talking about the Canberra Liberals and their clear political motivations in bringing forward this motion today, I do not want to. I really want to spend my time talking about the survey conducted by the Australian Education Union and talking about public school teachers and all that they have done, over the last 12 months in particular, during the pandemic.

I have been contacted by a number of my constituents who are parents of students that they send to public schools. I reckon that if anyone in this community had any reservations about how hard our schoolteachers work, they got a crash course in that over the last 12 months. I have heard many stories, not just from my constituents but from some of my own colleagues in this Assembly, about the challenges they have faced in educating their own children at home. It has created a heightened empathy and understanding for teachers within our community.

Mr Deputy Speaker, given my former profession, you might think that I would like to think of myself as a pretty skilled negotiator. But let me give the Treasurer some free advice. Whatever they ask for in the next enterprise bargaining agreement, give it to them. Find the money. Sell something. Tax someone. Find the money. Whatever the teachers are asking for after the year they have had and whatever the ongoing challenge that this government—like every other government in the country—has accepted in recruiting and retaining a teaching task force, we need to ensure that the representations made by the union to the government in their enterprise bargaining agreement negotiations to take place next year are heard and heard loudly.

It was great to hear the minister emphasise, as we all know, that we currently have the highest paid public school teachers in the country. But we know that it is not enough. And we know that it is not enough particularly in this city, where our educated teachers can be tempted into lucrative positions within a public service that offers very competitive pay and conditions. That is just the nature of our city. There are a number of very skilled educators working in our federal public service. I would love to see them encouraged to come back to ACT public schools.

I really valued that the Chief Minister took the opportunity in his national appearance on Q&A a couple of nights ago to try and directly recruit a teacher from the audience


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