Page 4023 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 16 Sept 2009

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the ACT introduced ACTAP back in the mid-1990s, the view was that the best determinant of educational outcome for children was the socioeconomic background of the school that they attended. There is a lot of merit in that argument as well. It is true that there are a lot of determinants in relation to the educational outcomes of children in our schools. Probably the most important determinant is the support that those children get in relation to learning from their homes.

I need to congratulate the minister on the quality of his rhetoric and the quality of the high-sounding principles that he talks about in this, but there has to be much more to this than just good rhetoric. On basically every holiday long weekend for the past two or three years we have seen the minister for education. He went through a children and family day process; then we got past the children and family day, and every holiday weekend there was a press release about how important it was that the best teachers be paid six-figure sums. I am glad he used the term “six-figure sums”; he said that we would get there.

But there is nothing in what the minister has said that actually has a signpost. It is still aspirational. He is still talking about the aspiration. Surely, in due course, inflation will mean that teachers get paid six-figure sums. There is still nothing to be heard from this minister except the notion that on every holiday Monday there will be a press release and an article in the Canberra Times about how Andrew Barr thinks that it is important that the best teachers get paid six-figure sums.

I am hoping—perhaps this will be a self-denying prophecy—that on 5 October, the next Monday long weekend, we will see that story. And next year, during the September-October school holidays, when we have two long weekends one after the other, the minister will be able to run that story twice. In the meantime, good teachers are not being paid and are not being rewarded in the way that this minister says that he thinks they should be.

There are real issues in the teaching profession about keeping people fresh and engaged and feeling as though they are rewarded. There are real issues in this country about having teachers valued for what they do provide. It is pretty much the case that, for probably the best part of a century, teachers were highly regarded in the community. They were the pillars of the community. There was the bank manager, the mayor, the local policeman and the local teacher. And the teachers were at the pinnacle.

We have been through a process—and the factors that contribute to that are many and varied—where teachers have not been given the same value and received the same recognition from the community at large. In addition to that, their remuneration has fallen. There is much more to be done than just writing a pay cheque. There is much more to be done than just ticking a box. What I am concerned about is that we will end up with tick a box: you go to a course; yes, you can get more money.

The minister spent a lot of time criticising the approach of the previous coalition education minister, but there was much more to what was being proposed at the time than he cares to acknowledge. It may not have been a perfect system, and when I was the shadow minister for education I was from time to time critical of some of the

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