Aug 20, 2013
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

NATIONAL PRESS CLUB ADDRESS

 

TRANSCRIPT OF MINISTER BILL SHORTEN

NATIONAL PRESS CLUB ADDRESS Q&A
CANBERRA

20 AUGUST 2013

 

E & O E – PROOF ONLY

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Subjects: Better Shools Plan; Federal Election; Tony Abbott’s cuts; Superannuation.

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HOST: Well thank you very much, Mr Shorten. Let’s move to our questions now from our media members, and the first one today is from Michelle Grattan.

 

JOURNALIST: Michelle Grattan from The Conversation. Mr Shorten, the Coalition has promised to pay for four years, the Better Schools money, to all states, including those who haven’t signed up. Your position, I think, is that you have agreed to pay this money to the ones who’ve signed but not the non-signatories. Would you consider matching the Coalition promise on that? And secondly, as candidates in trouble seem to be the flavour of the day, I wonder if I could just put in a political question, and ask you whether you think your former candidate in Hotham was treated justly? And what you think needs to be done to reform the feral nature of the Victorian ALP?

 

BILL SHORTEN: Michelle, if it’s alright, before the end I’ll return to questions other than on education. But I’d like the fact that the Opposition’s not here talking about education doesn’t mean I don’t want to not talk about education. I will come back to that before the end though. I’ll get Laurie to remind me when the time’s nearly up. But in terms of your first question, we don’t have trouble matching the Coalition proposition. They’re not matching ours. It’s sort of wrong way round. They’ve got out the microscope looking at education, when they need the telescope. When we talk about our proposition on education, we’re offering funding for six years. Not four.

That’s worth nearly an extra $8 billion to kids and their parents. So when we say can the Government match the Opposition, that’s topsy turvy. The question is why the Coalition won’t match the Government. Because why not give school communities certainty? What was remarkable about the Opposition’s sort of faux conversion on the road to their educational Damascus was that on the Thursday they’re on television calling it Conski, a play on words about their chair on the committee who did the report into needs based funding. So they said on Thursday’s it’s Conski, then on Friday they want to hug it. They’ve spent 1,500 days trash talking Labor on education, now all of a sudden they say oh, we can be trusted on education. So there is nothing we have to match, and indeed, what is interesting, what is truly remarkable about this education turmoil that the Opposition are in, which probably explains their absence today, is this – on Thursday, Liberal Party trash talking our education reforms. Probably got Mark Textor’s polling on the Thursday night, the red light went off in their secret policy bunker – not a lot of people in it.
They went oh my goodness – the Liberal patient’s on life support because on education, it’s not looking good. So Friday they say hey hey hey, we’re a bit of me too. But on Saturday, Dennis Napthine, don’t think he’s ever voted Labor – his brother did, but that’s another story – but he’s never voted Labor. He has a look at the Liberal offer which says no strings attached. You know, the Liberals are like David Copperfield, the magician of education. Don’t look at what the magic trick is, just look at some other disturbance. Well, Premier Napthine looked at the Liberal Party offer on education, his own party, with no strings attached, no strings attached. Look mum, no strings attached in Liberal land. And he signs up with Labor’s policy.
Goodness me. How can that be if ours is such a bad deal, that he crosses the ideological Rubicon, and says we like Labor’s deal with strings attached. And the reasons why there are strings attached are important. And we won’t just simply give the irresponsible blank cheque of these faux educationalists in Liberal land that they want to give the LNP Government in Queensland and elsewhere. In conservative states who haven’t signed up, why on earth would we say to Commonwealth taxpayers that education is important with needs based funding, but here’s the money, no strings attached? The strings that we’ve attached in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, ACT and South Australia is that they can’t cut, the states don’t cut their own funding.

What is the point of the Commonwealth education money walking in the front door, allowing the states to take money out of the system out the back door. That’s the nature of our reforms. Needs based. It’s not an excuse to replace the savage cuts the Coalition governments do in some jurisdictions when they get to power. So we have nothing to match when it comes to the conservatives. We are the only game in town.

 

Basically, the Liberal education policy is we won’t fund $8 billion extra, we won’t require the states to come to the party, we won’t really back in needs-based funding, because if they did they’d [inaudible] require the states, but in fact, we are just Labor lite.

My advice to every parent in Australia is – just like when you go to Bali and you see those cheap knockoff handbags which look good, maybe that’s good for a couple of weeks. Don’t buy the imitation when it comes to your kids’ education. Don’t buy Labor lite. Buy Labor.

 

HOST: A question from David Crowe.

 

JOURNALIST: Thanks Laurie – David Crowe from The Australian, Mr Shorten. Just a follow up on Gonski funding. In the Budget in May there were some numbers set against the Better Schools plan. But now without an agreement with Queensland, does that mean that the financial burden of that policy is lower now because Queensland’s not part of it, WA’s not part of it? Does that mean that the annual cost over the long term is going to be lower? And also on another aspect of education, some of the savings that you’ve made to fund what you’re doing include the self-education tax deduction. You talked in your speech about life-long learning – how do you justify removing that tax deduction and making it harder for people to keep their qualifications up? Would you consider restoring the tax deduction over time if it’s fiscally possible?

 

SHORTEN: First of all, language is important, isn’t it? We don’t regard education spending as a burden. We regard it as an opportunity, and the responsibility of progressive politics. Our door is open to do a deal with the LNP, with the Territory and with Western Australia. I did find negotiations with them a little unusual. Because, basically, we were offering a deal that for every extra two dollars the Commonwealth was finding to fund the schools and the individualised, personalised learning of the schoolkids in those jurisdictions, we were seeking one dollar from them. Some of these jurisdictions were seeking two dollars and they were looking to find twenty cents to match our two dollars. We’re generous, but we’re not mugs.

So what I say to those jurisdictions, what the Prime Minister has said, is that if Labor is re-elected, we are happy to re-open negotiations and see what they’ve got to do. But we can’t promise to give them money with no strings attached. Because all we are doing is subsidising their savage cuts in education. Governments make choices. When you vote for political parties, you’re getting a series of choices. When you vote Labor, you’re getting a choice that education just happens to be part of our brand. So those governments will just have to either come on board or they won’t. What is interesting though is that, you know, some of these jurisdictions have said oh, you know, it’s all about a takeover. It’s all about a takeover.

Well, if it’s a takeover, why is Barry O’Farrell not worried about it?

 

Why is Dennis Napthine not worried about it?

The multiplicity of interests which is the Catholic Education Commission- they don’t think we’re about to secularise religious education in Australia. But some of these Queensland LNP [inaudible] and the Territory administration, they can see things which obviously other people weren’t bright enough to see. Or perhaps they’re just wrong. Or perhaps all they want to do is cut costs.
In terms of self-education, we’ve actually delayed that decision to 2014-15. So we’ve delayed it. Secondly, when we go to Labor’s commitment to life-long learning, here’s a couple of numbers. 190,000 more people at university than when Labor was elected in 2007. $14 billion in university revenue now compared to $8 billion when Labor was elected. Under Labor, we have committed to create 645,000 Commonwealth Supported Places in education, which is 50 per cent more than when we took over from John Howard in 2007. 50 per cent increase in the higher ed places. 50 per cent. The population hasn’t gone up 50 per cent in the last ten years.

 

Again, if you want education – early childhood, primary, secondary or post-school, Labor is the brand in town.

 

HOST: Just to go back and clarify that first part of the question though – we assume if there is no deal with Queensland and WA the outlays will be lower?

 

SHORTEN: Well, if they don’t want the extra money, they don’t want the extra money. But what I also say is that we are keeping all existing National Partnerships, and we will go with the AGSRC indexation. So people aren’t going to go backwards. But if I was a parent of a child in Queensland or the Northern Territory or Western Australia, I’d want to say, hey, if the federal mob, Labor, want to provide an extra two dollars for our schools, can’t you guys find one dollar?

 

HOST: Question from Simon Grose.

 

JOURNALIST: Simon Grose from Science Media. My question is probably – like, I might have to go in Laurie’s holding tray, because it’s about workplace bullying rather than education. That’s an issue that’s been a concern to you in your previous Ministry, and now that you’re in education, you’re concerned about school bullying. I read your speech to the Bullying, Youth and the Law Symposium last month and I was impressed by that.

 

SHORTEN: Thank you.

 

JOURNALIST: That came through. But I also remembered, this bloke Shorten, he’s a factional heavy. And I just wondered how your concern about bullying informs your own behaviour. As – when you’re doing your factional warlord thing, how do you avoid being a bully in the workplace?

 

SHORTEN: You’ve just got to keep an eye on – and I’m happy to do the ALP questions – well, maybe I’ll just knock them over both now, if you like –

 

HOST: Okay, sure, sure.

 

SHORTEN: In answer to Michelle’s question, the Labor Party’s got great candidates. We’ve got candidates who know our policies. To the best of my knowledge we don’t have candidates who are mates of Roger Rogerson. The Labor Party’s got very good candidates. Geoff, who stepped down in Hotham, chose to step down. A tough call by him, but he put the interests of the Labor Party first. And the Labor Party will keep producing high calibre candidates across this nation. And not only have we got calibre candidates Michelle, we’ve got calibre polices.

 

In answer to your observation, I don’t accept the implication of what you’re saying in terms of ALP negotiations and bullying. But what I do accept is your sincerity about the issue of workplace bullying. So I thank you for raising that, generally. Workplace bullying is a real issue in Australian workplaces. The Productivity Commission has said that it can cost between $6 and $36 billion. Only Labor’s wanted to make it an issue within the federal remit, within the jurisdiction of the federal workplace commission, workplace relations commission. We’ve given them extra money to deal with it.

 

Bullying can occur on the internet. Bullying can occur at schools. It can also occur in workplaces. And Labor has made this an issue in all of these areas, because we recognise that it can cause great distress and great turmoil. And again, I’ve been spoken to in public forums by lots of people who’ve experienced the problems of workplace bullying. When we commissioned the House of Representatives inquiry into it in 2012, there were 320 submissions. And a lot of it, and talking to Amanda Rishworth, the South Australian Member of Parliament who chaired the inquiry, she said for a lot of people it was the first time they’d had a chance to get a hearing.
My interest in the matter was motivated by the death of Brodie Panlock – I got to know her parents. She was working in a cafe in Hawthorn and was subject to quite horrendous bullying, over an extended period of time. So for people who say that tackling workplace bullying is red tape, just meet someone who’s been bullied. The system isn’t working well enough.

 

HOST: Melissa Clarke.

 

JOURNALIST: Melissa Clarke from ABC – if I can ask you an education question, and a political question since they’re now out of the locker? Starting on the education question, will you continue to try and get the remaining states that haven’t signed on to the Better Schools Plan to sign on in a new government, in a new term of government should Labor be returned in September? And what would it take to get that? Would a Labor Government be willing to initiate further negotiations, or would you require the states to come asking to sign on? And on the political side, do you still believe that the result on September 7, whatever it may be, will be better for Labor than it would’ve been had Julia Gillard still been leading the Labor Party?

 

SHORTEN: In terms of the negotations with the states, again, we are prepared to negotiate with the states. But what we’re not prepared to do as the Opposition will do is to just hand over a blank cheque. The problem with the no strings attached Coalition logic is that there’s no requirement then on the states to increase their funding for schools. There’s no requirement in fact to maintain existing funding for schools. So what sort of person – and this is where I just don’t believe in their sort of faux conversion to education reform – what sort of person goes along and says here’s a truckload of Commonwealth resources, and by the way the people you’re in partnership with, you don’t have to do anything. In fact, you can do less than what you were doing. That’s just silly.

 

In terms of how we go on the 7th and how we will go in terms of Kevin Rudd, it was a very tough call, those weeks ago. It was a very tough call. Very hard. But what I also believe is that Labor is competitive. We’ve still got a number of days, a number of weeks before the election. What will assist Labor, I believe, is when we can pin down the Opposition on their costings. Because you can’t have the promises they’re making without paying someone. It’s not a game. Politics is not a game of hide and seek where the Coalition hide their policies and the public have to seek them out, and the prize if you don’t get caught is the Government of Australia. It’s too important for that. It’s time that there were two adult political parties in this country, both of whom explain how they pay for what they say.

 

One thing’s for sure – Labor will not engage in the sustained cuts in healthcare, in education. And in education I’d point to the fact that the Coalition won’t commit to six years. We won’t engage in this nonsense argument that somehow the Liberals say they’ve really seen the light on workplace relations and they won’t touch anything. People know, right down in their core, that the Opposition, when they get into government, in week one or week two will say, oh, we found out some new information, we’ve got to junk all our non-promises, and we’ll have to make cuts, we’ll have to go after penalty rates, statutory individual contracts will come back on.

 

People just know the truth. And the other thing we won’t do, and Kevin Rudd won’t do, is have an unaffordable, unfair parental leave scheme which sees a very few people receive a windfall. That’s- you know, you’ve got to pay for all these promises.

 

JOURNALIST: So, no regrets on that tough decision?

 

SHORTEN: Very hard. But I believe – very hard decision – but I have no doubt that Kevin Rudd is making us as competitive as we can be.

 

HOST: Joanna Mather.

 

JOURNALIST: Hi Mr Shorten – INPEX and Chevron have blamed the list of demands from workers, including Qantas Club membership and Foxtel – you know, they’re demanding that as part of their package – and the companies are saying this is unreasonable. Do you think these are reasonable demands?

 

SHORTEN: I’m a grown up when it comes to negotiations. I don’t think Chevron or INPEX are about to say yes. And I don’t think there’s going to be industrial action over them. But I didn’t come down in the last shower. For twenty years I’ve negotiated cooperatively and constructively representing employees working with employers. This is a perennial old one that gets run out every election, here’s the log of claims. Look, every negotiation has a starting point. For me, it’s where it ends. So, let’s not get too excited about these straw man issues of someone asking for something which can be reported as over the top. That’s not where it’s going to end. We know that. You know that. The Fin Review knows that. INPEX knows that. Chevron knows that. The MUA knows it.

 

So let’s not have, you know, artificial debates about negotiations and bargaining. What matters at the end of the day are safe workplaces. What matters at the end of the day are profitable companies. What matters at the end of the day are well remunerated workers who have control over their tasks at work and feel engaged at work. Chevron’s a sophisticated company. INPEX is a sophisticated operation. The workers are not dumb, either. They’ll work this issue out. But let’s not use some sort of nonsense, straw man, you know, look what’s on the log of claim issue and simply say this log of claims is just the fancy IR language for your opening position. Let’s look at where they close the gap, okay?

 

HOST: Daniel Hurst.

 

JOURNALIST: Daniel Hurst from the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. You’ve been attacking the Coalition on the basis of saying billions of dollars of education cuts. I assume that’s because of that final two years of the six years? But realistically, how rock-solid is your commitment to those final two years, given they’re beyond the Budget cycle, and the Australian people over many, many times, many Budgets in the past few years have seen decisions pushed back, deferred, foreign aid for example, which was a core sort of commitment, kept being deferred. So how realistically can you expect Australians to believe that that substantial extra money that will come in the final two years of the six years will actually be delivered under Labor?

 

SHORTEN: Let’s not fall for the conservative trap that we don’t have to say anything because no one will ever believe us anyway. Come on. We’ve got a six year, funded proposition. We’ve been working on this for two and a half years. If you have any question which you really believe is a real issue in that question, really a real issue, then you must be scared to death of the Coalition’s false conversion, at two minutes to midnight. We’ve costed six years. If you say that we’re not fair dinkum, then you’re saying that Barry O’Farrell is a mug. Then you’re saying that Dennis Napthine is a mug. Then you’re saying that every other Premier is a mug, the Catholics are mugs, and the Independent Schools Council are mugs. That’s not true.
You’re only a mug if you actually believe the Opposition on education. Also, when we talk about cuts – the SchoolKids Bonus. $410 gone for primary school kids – for their parents. You know, kids grow every year. They need new school shoes. They need new school uniforms. Kids play summer and winter sports. They need help with the cost of living – the parents do. Secondary school, it doesn’t get any cheaper, it only gets more expensive. Labor’s providing a school kids bonus just to help parents stretch a little bit further what they need to get done for their kids. The Libs want to cut that. Bang.

 

I love the Libs. They want to give Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton a tax refund, but they want the parents of Australia to pay for it. Obviously they must think that, you know, school shoes can last twice as long in Liberal land. And the other cut they want to do is Trade Training Centres. We’ve now got over 1,000 schools in multiple hundreds of trade training centres either operating, being built, or slated for operation and construction. The Libs are not committed to that. Oh my goodness, back to the dark ages with the Liberal Party, because they don’t obviously think that some kids don’t want to go to university. There’s nothing wrong with supporting school-based apprenticeships. Thousands of kids doing it right now.

 

So when we talk about cuts, and some people say tut tut, the Labor Party’s being negative, as though the only positive form of politics in Australia is not telling anyone about what you’re going to do, ever, and using the fact of policy invisibility as proof that you’re being positive – you know, what Labor’s simply doing is saying what the truth is. There goes the SchoolKids Bonus. Bang. Gone. There goes the fifth and sixth years of education funding. And your question sort of implies that we should have been in trouble for having made a promise, and in fact, there’s almost a degree of policy fatigue that’s sunk into Australia – let’s not even have them make any promises, lets give the Libs a complete free kick, because they’re not going to bother making them, they’re not going to bother costing them. And when they do make them, they’re certainly not going to cost them. So there’s your cuts agenda. We’re not scaring people. It just so happens that the truth of the Coalition in government is scary.

 

HOST: Matt Dawson, The Conversation.

 

JOURNALIST: Matt Dawson, The Conversation – just further on that, the Coalition have committed to the first four years, and leaving the last two unknown. Do you think it’s a pretty big assumption to say they’d be cutting billions out of public education?

 

SHORTEN: Well then, why don’t they say what they’re going to do? What is this, leave pass week? If you’re the Coalition, what are they, right-wing Greens where you’ve never got to prove your promises? You know, it’s almost like there’s one adult party, Labor, we contort ourselves to be able to be sure that when we make a promise we can fund it. Then you’ve got the kids turning up. You’ve got the Abbott Coalition, oh yeah, you know, we don’t really believe in education – and seriously, have any of you reported anything positive they’ve had to say about education in the last five years? Then miraculously, beam me up Scotty, the Liberals have had a personality transplant. Sort of. Not really. And then it’s said – oh well, I guess it’s only billions of dollars. You know what I think about kids in prep? They want to do grades four, five and six. I’ll tell you about kids in year seven – we want them to do years eleven and twelve. Kids don’t go away in year five and six. They’re still there.

So if the Liberals are not willing to commit to it, you have to ask yourself why. Is it because they can’t pay for it? Or because they don’t want to? But either way, it’s a bad answer.

 

HOST: Mark Kenny.

 

JOURNALIST: Mark Kenny from The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. Can I ask you about another matter close to your heart, superannuation. And you mentioned the PPL scheme, the parental leave scheme of Tony Abbott’s. It’s been fairly roundly condemned by a lot of people as being overly generous. However, can I put it to you that in one respect, it has an element that I would’ve otherwise thought might be attractive to the Labor Party and to you – and that is the continuation of superannuation benefits for people on maternity leave. Now, we know that women have lower superannuation nest eggs by the time they retire, from a lifelong lower income, generally, and also from broken working lives from having, excuse me, from having children. So I’m wondering is it, is that something that you regret your party not having built into your scheme, and would you consider re-engineering it in the future? And if I could ask you just one other quick question – Rupert Murdoch has tweeted today “conviction politicians hard to find anywhere – Australia’s Tony Abbott rare exception, opponent Rudd all over the place convincing nobody.” I wonder if I could ask you for a response on that?

 

SHORTEN: Well, on superannuation I really hope this election’s fought on superannuation. Because Labor wipes the floor with the Libs. I’ll tell you what we’re doing to help make sure women have more superannuation in the future – we’re increasing it from 9 to 12 per cent. You know, what are those cartoons – that’s a kapow! The Libs voted against it. The best way to have more superannuation is to have increasing levels of superannuation. We’ve now got it up to 9.25 per cent as of July. The Liberal Party have said nup, we’re going to freeze it there if we’re elected. Well, I’ll tell you what that will cost a hairdresser who’s in her mid 20s now. That’s going to cost tens of thousands of dollars. Tens of thousands of dollars gone – thanks Tony Abbott, gender gap in super just blows out. I’ll tell you another clanger that the Liberals are doing on superannuation. There’s 3.5 million Australians who earn less than $37,000 a year. Labor, 1 July 2012 – we scrapped the 15 per cent tax they used to pay on super.
Let me be really clear how it works. Because for some people super’s boring, but the reality is it’s very important for a lot of people. It is this – by the way, Joe Hockey says that costings are boring for some people. I don’t think they are. And I don’t think super is, either.

 

You pay 15 per cent or used to pay 15 per cent tax on your superannuation contributions going in. So if you earned $37,000 you’d probably get $3,200 roughly in super. Nice. But up to 2012 you were paying 15 per cent, so several hundred dollars in tax. Gone. Goodbye. See you later. Never get to talk to you again. It’s been nice. Gone. But under Labor, you get it back now. Do you know how many women earn less than $37,000? And if you say a number lower than 2.1 million, you’re wrong.

 

2.1 million. I tell you what. I love the Libs trying to have a beauty contest about who cares more about the gender gap in superannuation. I’ll put my 2.1 million women against the few people who stand to benefit under Tony Abbott’s scheme. And I will put the 8.5 million on 9.25 per cent, many of whom, the majority of whom are women, or many of whom are women – they go up. And the other thing is, it’s Labor who increased the superannuation concessional caps for people over 60 from $25,000 to $35,000. Because the reality is, in one’s life, there are times when you can earn more money, and times when you’ve got more debts, and mortgages, and kids.

 

Of course, it’d be a little harder in Liberal land if you don’t have the SchoolKids Bonus, won’t it? But sometimes when you get a bit older, you’ve got a bit more money to put aside. So Labor lifted the concessional caps, 1 July this year, so women over 60 if they’ve got a bit more money can put more in and get the benefit of that concessional taxation. And from 1 July next year, it’ll be women over the age of 50 and men. So when you look at who’s doing their job to lift superannuation- plus we’ve put downward pressure on fees and charges on super with our future of financial advice reforms, which has already seen downard pressure on costs – I tell you what, when it comes to looking at the gender gap in terms of superannuation savings, if that’s what floats your boat for voting in this election, Labor is 4 – 0 up on the Libs.

 

JOURNALIST: And on Murdoch?

SHORTEN: Oh, sorry – Rupert Murdoch. I just saw that report before. It’s a free country. I mean, he’s an American citizen who has a humungous voice in Australia. I’m not sure I can change his mind. I am interested in changing the mind of 15 million Australian citizens. I know that we’ve got an American citizen [inaudible] Australia – this election will still be decided by 15 million Australians.

HOST: We’ll take a final question. We’ll go back to Michelle Grattan.

JOURNALIST: Minister Shorten, sometimes the teachers’ unions have been fairly negative about changes in education, not changes involving money, but other work practices and so on. What do you think of the performance of the teachers’ union at the moment? And what do you think the responsibility of union leaders in that sector when it comes to educational reform, non-financial reform.

SHORTEN: I don’t believe that we would have the extent and the depth of the debate about needs-based funding in Australia without the teachers’ union. So I actually think that they have been a change agent. They’ve been an actor for good. What I also get – and I go to this point, I touched upon it in my speech more generally – be it the Independent Education Union or the AEU, is teachers generally. What they represent as teachers, there has been a lot of involvement in the Better Schools program in which the unions played a crucial role, as have many other thinkers and leaders, school principals, parents, teachers, people in the private school sector and non-government. The one thing I am very convinced about and very clear about, this country does not pay its teachers enough.  This country does not sufficiently value teaching.

Once upon a time teaching was way out of the working class. It had prestige. Somewhere along the line we began to value other occupations more importantly. Maybe because that’s because a lot of teachers are women. Maybe that’s because we don’t appreciate that unlike a lot of occupations which just require intellectual – when I’ve represented oil workers and gold miners, and Pinjarra refinery workers, and it’s great the kids from Pinjarra are here. The number one thing I am reasonably sure of is that in a lot of occupations you don’t to be emotionally up throughout the course of your shift. Teachers have to commit emotionally. We as parents and as adults trust our children’s welfare and development and excellence to teachers. Teachers aren’t allowed to have bad days. They’ve constantly got to have the up switch on all the time.

I also recognise that engineering is important, accounting is important, journalism is important, but so is teaching. When I think about teachers who have done their 10 years in the system, who are teaching science and maths to year eights – you shouldn’t have to leave teaching and move into administration to get better pay. So there is a challenge in the future and it’s not an easy challenge. The union is part of working through those answers. Change is inevitable. Change is inevitable. Work practice change is inevitable. Authority for schools is inevitable. But if you do it with your workforce what I also really, really get is that whether you’ve got teachers say, in some of specialist areas, to have to supplement their teaching pay with a part-time job just so they can be teachers.

You know, I think our challenge is – and I will fight this cliché with every breath in my body – you know this cliché that runs around and says that those who can do and those who can’t teach? That ignorant, prejudiced cliché. Well, I’m not on your side of anyone who thinks that. We owe a lot to our teachers. I think that Labor will deliver on some of that faith they show in our kids.

Another thing we share with our teachers at the end of the day is that we can’t ask teachers to be the parents. If parents aren’t engaged in the education of their children then the teachers can only do so much. So our challenge is multi-faceted. If you think that education is one way Australia, a nation of 23 million, in the Australian street of the Asian neighbourhood, can survive and flourish in the future then our teachers are a big part of that and the unions have been a constructive player.

 

ENDS

 

Communications Unit: T 03 8625 5111   www.alp.org.au

 

 

Authorised by G. Wright, Australian Labor Party, 5/9 Sydney Avenue, Barton, ACT, 2600

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