By Kevin Glancy
Imagine for a moment that you are the Prime Minister and you want to put more funding into education, primarily into state school education. You want the state governments to contribute but you know that state governments own, finance and manage those schools and that your government, the federal government is not responsible for state school education although taxpayers do contribute some funding though the federal government.
Therefore, as PM and with no ownership of state schools you would know that it would be presumptuous to make any policy announcements about funding that requires state government cooperation prior to talking to the owners (state Premiers) to see what they think. That is; unless you were making such an announcement for purely political gain and to ultimately corner the Premiers so you can engineer the ‘blame game’ with the states for political advantage.
So if you were Prime Minister and genuine about state school education the first thing you would do to ensure a successful outcome and to gain a political advantage would be to quietly discuss the issue with the state Premiers and collectively try to arrive at a funding model. You could also launch such an initiative and attract favourable press by highlighting how and why you think money will improve education outcomes and that you intend to discuss it with the Premiers to get them on board.
Of course the last thing you would do is follow the Gillard example and hold a press conference to announce the policy without first consulting the state Premiers because that would be simply rude and presumptuous. They are not your schools to dictate how they should be managed and until you put the details on the table you have no right to demand that the states should agree.
Further as Gillard did, you wouldn’t exacerbate the problem that you have just created by ramping up the rhetoric, saying things like; ‘I will fight for Gonski’ and demanding that the Premiers think of the children etc. when you have provided no opportunity for the Premiers to see any details of your plan.
Nor would you expect the Premiers to agree and sign up at a COAG meeting when it is the first time that they will see the details of your policy because you know they need time to consider their response.
Of course you might also understand that the Liberal Premiers have very little money as they are still trying to overcome the financial mess inflicted by the previous state Labor Governments – your comrades.
You also might consider that as you have announced the election date and that, as the funding won’t come into effect until after the election, that you might simply announce it as your intention should you be successful at that next election just a few months away. After all what’s the rush when it may well not be your responsibility after that election.
Of course given that you have to borrow the money on an already maxed-out taxpayer funded credit card to fund the federal component it would suggest some caution rather than commit the next elected government to a bigger deficit.
A very sensible Prime Minister would also be aware that funding to schools has already been increased by 40% over the past ten years or so and yet poor outcomes by world standards in literacy and numeracy have resulted. This would indicate that simply throwing money at the wall is not necessarily the answer. You could also look at Japan where they spend far less per student on education than we do and yet lead the way globally in academic results.
Obviously aware of this fact Julia Gillard, at the recent Victorian Labor Party Conference stated that one in 12 Australian kids wasn’t meeting basic education standards and while four of the world’s top five school systems were in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia’s wasn’t one of them. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
Of course effectively, Julia Gillard has been managing education in Australia for the last 6 years as Minister for Education and then Prime Minister, so I don’t know who she thinks is responsible for the failure of children to meet basic education standards. It’s a wonder that she hasn’t blamed such an outcome on Tony Abbott’s supposed ‘relentless negativity’.
It also begs the question, given the Japanese experience of achieving more with less money; why does Gillard think that more money is the answer when she uses Japan as an example of where Australia should be?
Of course if you were Prime Minister you wouldn’t be so arrogant or bad mannered as the current one.
Julia Gillard’s Gonski agenda, is like many previous policy statements she has made that rely essentially on state government funding – NDIS being just one example. Gillard is clearly about making grand announcements without money or details and will say and do anything to stay in power. She is not the slightest bit interested in showing respect for those, who in the main, will fund her supposed policies – the state governments.
The Premiers should not sign up and rightly wait to see what happens at the election – besides none of them really have the money and throwing money at the problem might make life sweeter for the Teachers’ Federation union but will not help education outcomes.
Any money spent on education should be clearly targeted at ensuring improvements in numeracy and literacy. It involves parents as much as teachers and perhaps some discipline should be exercised in schools much like the old days. Soft subjects should be abolished and teachers allowed to concentrate on the basics like reading writing and arithmetic.
It is only since the Left through the unions back in the late seventies and eighties took over education that standards have gone downhill and anti-business, pro-Labor, Left-wing politics and propaganda has been a distracting part of the curriculum.
The teachers’ union should not be given more money to simply fulfil the union controlled Labor Party manifesto. As in – more money for less work rather than as it should be – more money for teachers in return for better results.
This is exactly what Queensland LNP Premier, Campbell Newman recently announced when he put $50 million aside to instigate a merit based reward programme for teachers. Teachers could learn a lot from the private sector where their antics would not be tolerated unless they work at GM Holden of course.
Taxpayers have provided 2.2billion dollars over the last 12 years for Holden and the unions have been able to enjoy a 63.33% wage increase – that is an average 4.87 % every year from taxpayers and from a company on its knees. Does anyone think that the Teachers’ Federation is not about achieving the same outcome as their Holden comrades?
Footnote: There are many teachers who do the hard yards with the best of intentions, quality teachers who should remove themselves if at all possible from the destructive, self-serving tactics employed by the Teachers’ Federation. If that organization was the slightest bit interested in improving education outcomes it would agree to a merit based system for teachers.
According to Grace Collier at Holden it gets worse.
Here, Grace describes the agreement unions have with their employers. A fatuously titled clause, ‘Responding to the Market and Seizing the Opportunity’, says the parties have “agreement to ensure that change, productivity and flexibility are efficiently managed and implemented”. Yet the agreement prohibits the company from increasing, decreasing or rearranging the workforce without union approval.
The company can only hire a casual employee after gaining the agreement of the relevant unions and then only for “agreed numbers”, “agreed specified tasks” and “agreed specified periods”. Anyone who is casual for more than three months automatically becomes permanent…
If there is need to increase production, the company must in the first instance offer overtime to employees. If it is not taken up, then, provided the unions give permission, the company may use workers from a labour hire company, but only for “specified periods”, and in limited numbers with union agreement required at each stage of the process. Holden cannot choose the labour hire company; they can only use a business selected by the unions.
As Grace Collier highlights; anyone with any commercial experience can grasp the significance of this arrangement.