Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (2 July) . . Page.. 2226 ..
MR BERRY (continuing):
If you look at the figures, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, you will discover that, as a result of this cut, which equates to 270 teaching points, there will be a cut of 131/2 teachers from the beginning of the 2000 school year. How can anyone sit in this place and say that it is not a cut? It is a cut. It is a serious cut to the college system. There have been 32 positions lost in colleges since 1995 and this equates to another 131/2 positions. To pretend that that is not a cut of some form to education is quite reprehensible.
The Chief Minister was reprehended for her performance in budget management, particularly in relation to the Bruce Stadium project, and for good reason. The same style has found its way into the management of the education budget. This budget has been cut twice. I believe that the Government is going to ignore the recommendation of the Estimates Committee that the teachers taking voluntary redundancy under the teacher renewal program be granted a payout consistent with what they would receive under the normal voluntary redundancy program. My understanding is that the Government has said no to that. The committee has recommended that the teacher renewal program not be funded at the expense of teaching resources for secondary colleges. The Government has ignored that.
The committee has recommended that, in consultation with the ACT Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union, the Department of Education and Community Services develop a strategy to ensure that all school cleaning contracts comply with award occupational health and safety and insurance requirements. Is it not amusing that the Government is not interested in those sorts of things? It seems that child labour has been returned to our schools. We received evidence that young children were working as cleaners within the education system, yet the Government is going to do nothing about that. It does not consider that that is an issue. This is back to the coalmine stuff and the Government does not seem to have expressed one point of concern about it. The Government's response is that school principals are responsible for the management of contracts, and on it goes. No, the Government is responsible for what is happening in its schools and it cannot flick the responsibility because of school-based management, as it seems to be attempting to do.
Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, the Government has a responsibility to ensure that decent labour practices exist within the education system, particularly in our schools. It is clear from the evidence presented to the Estimates Committee that things like public risk insurance are not always paid by employers. Perhaps workers compensation payments are not being paid as well. Occupational health and safety standards are not being observed. The Government's response is: "Go and fix it up with them as it is their problem, not ours". Yes, it is your problem. If you think that sort of competition is fair, competition which results in unfair labour practices in our schools, you have got another think coming. I am not going to leave this issue alone. I am not finished with it.
Ms Carnell: You are just making a fool of yourself.