Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 2853 ..
MRS CROSS (continuing):
Teachers are often treated as servants; they are treated as babysitters. With few exceptions, they do serve their society well and they do deserve recognition. I am concerned that the attitude of taking teachers for granted persists in undervaluing that service.
There is also an attitude that teachers get good holidays and therefore should be happy with their lot. Governments know that teachers cost a great deal and they look at the wages bill and are horrified that so much of their budget goes in one lump. Governments steadfastly underpay teachers for their service. It has gone on for many years now.
The recompense for teachers roles in the development of the future adults of our society has always been well below their worth. The acknowledgment of the serious responsibility towards society that teachers have has been undervalued, and again the recompense has always been below their worth.
There was a brief time in the mid 1970s when in some states of Australia teachers were valued and they were paid reasonably. Then, unfortunately, the bean counters got to work; budgets moved away from looking at education as an important issue and teachers were put into a mediocre pay area, where they still are.
Teachers are not paid for their worth. They are not paid at a level that is appropriate to their training; they are not paid according to the responsibility associated with their worth. Teachers are handy butts for criticism, easy targets for the disgruntled, and they have borne this unwelcome aspect of their central role in the life and development of our society.
Why don't we for a change get out of this rut, lift up our eyes a little, think back to the contribution our own teachers made to our lives. We should express our confidence in their greatly undervalued role in preparing future generations. We should acknowledge their enduring contribution and not take them for granted. And the simplest, clearest way to do that is by paying them fairly. They deserve better consideration than they generally receive. And in the case of our local scene, for a start, their remuneration should be at least on a par with their fellow professionals across the border. Let's take that step.
MR STEFANIAK (8.37): I've listened with great interest to this particular debate. It's interesting to hear what Ms Gallagher has got to say in trying to criticise the previous government, and I'll make the point I think I've made in a few similar speeches on this. Ms Gallagher, we actually didn't have much money to operate with. In fact, even in 2000, if I recall, we were still in the red; a situation we inherited from the previous Labor administration. And quite seriously I just wonder what, when there is a change of government here, the situation will be like again. We'll probably do exactly the same and have to inherit a shocking situation in the red.
Ms Gallagher, I must say I listened with some interest and not so much amusement but just sort of irony as to the predicament you find yourself in, especially as an ex-union rep, now representing the government in terms of this particular EBA you're going to negotiate with the teachers. Ms Gallagher, you're quite right in saying that a 1 percent increase is $2 million. I've been there. I can sympathise actually with the