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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 8 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2164 ..

Teachers Dispute

MR BERRY: My question is to the Minister for Education, Mr Stefaniak. Minister, in the covering letter which was with the Government's proposed offer for negotiation with the AEU, sent by Ms Vardon, it was pointed out that ACT teachers have two hours less of daily face-to-face teaching than their New South Wales counterparts. Minister, could you tell us why this needed to be pointed out, and do you really want teachers to actually teach more hours each week?

MR STEFANIAK: This is a rather strange question, Mr Speaker. I wonder when that letter was actually sent. It sounds like a very early letter, because Ms Vardon is on leave, pending going off to Western Australia. I will see whether Mr Berry actually tables that letter, because I am interested in the date. He is talking about teachers working two hours less than their New South Wales counterparts. I think that would have to refer to high school teachers, because it probably refers to face-to-face teaching.

Mr Berry: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think the Minister has missed the point. Does the Minister really want teachers to actually teach more hours each week? That is the question.

MR SPEAKER: The Minister is answering the question.

MR STEFANIAK: That is your question, is it? I thought that was the second part of the question. Firstly, as Ms Vardon wrote that letter, I cannot say why she would have pointed that out. I would imagine, though, that it is fairly common knowledge that our teachers - certainly our high school teachers - have the lowest face-to-face teaching hours among their counterparts in the Commonwealth of Australia, in every State and Territory. I think that is a fairly well-known fact and a fairly important fact. Negotiations are continuing. That is, I suppose, one of the points that would obviously feature in negotiations between the department and the unions, to see whether that is something that might well feature on the productivity side. It is certainly a point that would be part of the negotiating process.

Really, Mr Berry, I do not think it is for me to say one way or the other whether I want them to teach any more. What I want in this dispute is for it to be settled. The Government wants that. That is why we are trying to get into the Industrial Relations Commission. That is why this Government has constantly been calling on the teachers to lift the bans.

Mr Berry: Mr Speaker, on a point of order - - -

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Berry, sit down. I am answering your question. If we can come up between us - - -

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