SPEECH - TANYA PLIBERSEK - SYDNEY - REMARKS TO THE NSW TEACHERS FEDERATION COUNCIL - SATURDAY, 4 MAY 2019

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TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
 
REMARKS TO THE NSW TEACHERS FEDERATION COUNCIL
 
SYDNEY
 
SATURDAY, 4 MAY 2019
 
***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***

It's such a great pleasure to be here with you today and I want to start by acknowledging that we're meeting on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation and pay my respects to their elders past and present, and any other elders that we might have from around New South Wales or around Australia here with us today. I want to acknowledge Maurie first of all and the New South Wales Teachers' Federation Council members. I know that there are many of you here today, I know that others are now back in their home communities because school's started.
 
I wanted to do a couple of things today, I wanted to run you through some of the education policies that we've announced and then I want to talk to you about why a vote for Labor is important in this election. We have more detailed, thorough, well-developed education policy on offer at this election than you have seen in many years - it's in schools, of course, it's also in TAFE and universities, but it starts from preschool.
 
We know that 90 per cent of a child's brain development happens before the age of five. We know how vital quality early learning is. So, we go right back to the start of a child's life and ask the question: how can we strengthen and support families, parents - their child's first educators, particularly in disadvantaged communities - and how can we make sure that early learning is valued by our society as more than just babysitting? It's not just a workforce measure for parents, important as that is - and that's why we've said we will basically provide free childcare for people on low incomes and substantially increase the subsidies for people on middle incomes.
 
We know that families are struggling with the cost of care and people are thinking; 'I'm not going to go back to work yet,' or 'I'm not going to go back to work full-time, I'm going to just go part-time and rely on family.' We know that children are missing out on early childhood education because of the cost. So it is important to deal with the cost. But it's also really important to deal with wages of early childhood educators. We've made a commitment to raising the wages in early childhood education and care up to $11,000 over eight years of the roll-out of that plan, because we know that early childhood educators would not have lost their pay equity case in the Fair Work Commission if it wasn't for a technicality about looking for a male comparator for the work they do. It was the wrong interpretation by the Fair Work Commission of the requirements, I think of the Act.
 
So, we're going to do more about pay equity in other parts of the industrial relations agenda down the track but this pay increase for early childhood educators is absolutely deserved for the quality, the complexity, the responsibility of the work they do. But it's also an ongoing commitment to preschool for three and four year olds - you know the Liberals have only committed for one more year after this year.
 
You can't keep rolling over preschool for four year olds year by year. What community preschool can invest in upgrading or expanding their facilities if there's only funding for one more year? What school, what community, what council, what state government is going to invest in building or upgrading facilities if they don't know when the funding runs out.
 
So we say we need a permanent commitment to childcare, preschool education for three year olds - universal access for three year olds, as well as universal access for four year olds permanently, in the Budget, the same way that school funding is permanent. It's not rolled over year upon year.  I'm going to go to TAFE and university, I'm going to come back to schools at the end because I suspect there'd be quite a few of you who are particularly interested in the schools policies.
 
Isn't it bizarre that in Australia today, we have 150,000 fewer apprentices and trainees than when the Liberals came to office? Isn't it a shame that we've seen $3 billion cut from the TAFE and training Budget by this conservative government – at the time that we have high youth unemployment and skills shortages across the country.
 
How can those three things coexist other than by negligence by this government. So, we say we're going to invest $200 million in upgrading the physical infrastructure of TAFE, we've got 100,000 fee-free TAFE places, we will restore TAFE's place as the central vocational education provider in this country. Two thirds of government funding will be going to public TAFE because we know that public TAFE is the cornerstone of vocational education.
 
Around Australia, I've been travelling around Australia visiting TAFE facilities, announcing new aged care training facilities, new disability care training facilities, new nursing labs, new engineering and metalwork facilities for the jobs that will come from investment in renewable energy - so that we've got the metal manufacturing, engineering and electricians to do that work. Right around Australia, in regional communities, in cities, in suburbs, we need to invest in our vocational education system.
 
We also need to make sure that a strong and high-quality TAFE system sits side by side with a strong and independent university system. This government, as you know, has capped university places. You saw the number of students who were the first in their family from your schools get their first opportunity to go to university when we uncapped access to university. You saw the dramatic increase in the number of students from an Indigenous background, from a regional and remote community, from a low SES background, from a CALD background, students with a disability - all of those groups increased their attendance at university when we uncapped university places.
 
Over the next decade, when we uncap them again - if we are fortunate enough to be elected - more than 200,000 additional students will get the chance of a university education. I think there's probably a few people in this room who would not be teachers today if it wasn't for the reforms of the Whitlam Labor Government. We know that 90 per cent of the jobs being created in coming years require a TAFE or a university education. We need to make sure that all our kids get that opportunity when they finish school; and that older workers retraining in our changing economy get that opportunity as well.
 
Now, I want to talk about schools.
 
Well, it's a pretty simple choice.
 
You can vote Scott Morrison back in and he will restore the funding to Catholic and Independent schools but he will not restore the $14 billion that has been cut by the conservatives from our public schools. The schools that teach two thirds of Australian children, that teach the majority of children in remote and rural areas, the majority of Indigenous children, the majority of children with a disability, the majority of children with a CALD background. He will not restore that $14 billion.
 
Can I ask you all to get your phones out, I don't normally do this during speeches because they are quite distracting. I'd like you to have a look if you've got a little internet connection on your phone. Have a look at the FairGoForSchools website. Just type in to your search engine - fair go for schools.
 
Fair go for schools - and when you get to the website, type in the name of the school you're currently teaching in or the name of the last school you taught at.
 
Can you call out your school and the number and the amount.

  • Wheeler Heights Public School - $420,000.
  • Killarney Heights High School - $930,000.
  • Fairfield High School - $1,720,000
  • Swansea High School - $840,000

 
All right, so you know those schools, right? You know those schools intimately, you know what a difference that funding would make to your school. You know how hard you work or your P&C works to raise $500 or $5,000. You're all going to be having, no doubt, the schools that are polling booths this election day will have the sausage sizzle going and you'll raise a few hundred bucks. If you've got a fete on the day, you might raise a few thousand bucks.
 
The difference we are talking about when we talk about fair funding for schools is hundreds of thousands of dollars in your schools over the next three years alone. Your schools, your kids - the kids that you are fighting for, you’re here because you are fighting for your students, I know that. The students that you are fighting for cannot afford to lose that sort of funding. They cannot afford to lose that sort of funding. Now, you know, Scott Morrison in the debate with Bill Shorten last night said; 'oh it's not just about the dollars.'
 
The money pays for people. It's your time with your students, it's the ability to focus one on one on their needs, it's the opportunity to identify kids who are struggling, and help them, give them the intensive support they need. It's the ability, if you want to, to get in a speech pathologist or the occupational therapist, or do the welfare work that children need before they can concentrate on learning when they are coming to school stressed, upset, hungry because of whatever's happening at home. It's the opportunity that that extra funding gives you - that's what you're fighting for in this election campaign. Now, we've got plenty of other policies as well and I think you probably know most of them.
 

  • There's $300 million extra for students with a disability.
  • NAPLAN review.
  • Solar Schools program -  announced that this week.
  • The National Principals' Academy
  • The Evidence Institute for Schools
  • Asian languages and literacy
  • Bursaries to attract top achievers into teaching because we want to
  • lift the bar for people to get into initial teacher education
  • Swim Schools
  • Healthy eating in schools
  • Community Language Schools on the weekends
  • Playgroups and toy libraries that go with our preschool policies.

 
All of those really important ways of improving what's happening in our schools and offering kids a really full and rich curriculum with things like swimming lessons. But, none of this, none of this, can happen without extra investment. What is Scott Morrison's plan for extra investment in our schools - he says it's not all about money. He has no plan to restore the funding he's cut and he's got no plan to support kids getting the sort of education they deserve in a country like Australia. So, I think it's an obvious call to you today and, you know, I love the billboards out there saying, you know, 'if Scott Morrison wins, you lose.' All of you lose obviously, but what really matters is the kids that you will be facing on Monday - they lose. The kids that you all go back to school to see May 20th if
 
Scott Morrison stays the Prime Minister - they lose. They lose. And kids can't afford to lose. As adults, you can be upset about an election loss, you can think; 'oh can I stand three more years of these negative people.' No plan, nothing for wages growth, nothing for climate change - you can be upset about that - but every year in a child's education counts. You can't say we can wait another three years to do something for these kids. You can't say that.
 
So, I'm delighted to be invited to speak to you today, to thank you for, first of all, for the fantastic campaign that you have already been running. I've seen the social media, I've seen the photographs, I've seen the signs, I've seen the little schools in the lawns with the numbers written on - how much better they'd be. I have seen the fantastic campaigning you've already been doing and I know that parents take a lot more notice of you than they take of me. I'm just another politician. You are someone they trust with their child's future. So, I know that your campaigning really matters.
 
But I want to ask one last thing of you. A vote against Scott Morrison is absolutely critical. But for us to deliver this, we have to form government. I know that some of you will be tempted by minor parties or independents or whatever. You cannot afford it at this election. We have to form government to deliver on this agenda. If you want this stuff that I'm talking about today. If you want this stuff, you have to vote Labor and you have to urge your communities, your parents to vote Labor. Because unless we win, this is all just a bunch of good ideas.
 
Thank you very much for letting me come and speak with you today.
 
Thank you for your passion.
 
ENDS