Kevin Bates
QTU President

No slur meant on hard-working P&Cs

Unfortunately, a media comment I made on Tuesday after the state budget announcement has been taken as a slur on Queensland’s P&Cs.

To be fair to media outlets, which rely on the short grabs that keep us interested in the news, I can see why they chose to run that particular comment rather than the number of others I made on the education impacts of the budget. Conflict makes news. 

The comment I made was a direct response to a question from a journalist on whether P&Cs could face a conflict of interest. Of course, the question is rarely aired.

I apologise to any P&C members who have been offended, and wish to reassure them that their tireless hard work as volunteers in school communities is appreciated by teachers, school communities and the QTU (as outlined in this media release).

It is not appropriate for this state government to take further advantage of this voluntary effort by requiring P&Cs to bear the burden of managing a new allocation of money for school maintenance funding as well.

The QTU has long lobbied for more school maintenance funding, and there was a welcome boost in the budget.

The Government's proposal does raise several issues:

  • that the Government is taking P&Cs’ volunteer effort for granted 
  • that variable models for supplying funding through school leaders and P&Cs working together should be explored - eg, a cluster of several small schools uniting to obtain the greatest value for the maintenance spend, and 
  • that real or perceived conflicts of interest can arise, especially in smaller communities with a limited number of suppliers. 

Our own members have been faced with the need to identify and avoid such conflicts for many years when using local providers for maintenance tasks, and have relied on central advice on how to do so.

The QTU acknowledges the many millions of dollars in funds that are raised by P&Cs for state schools to make up for the underfunding of education by successive state governments.

Kevin Bates
QTU President

12 September 2012