Who will be the winners from the state election?

KBates.gifThe outcome of the state election will have a direct impact on the working conditions of Queensland state school principals and teachers, since the state government is their employer. These impacts will be felt very soon, with formal negotiations on the next EB due to commence on 1 April.

Education announcements have been scattered throughout the campaigns of the two major parties, but there have been two announcements which highlighted major differences between the ALP and LNP. (Comparing the LNP’s promise of iPads for special schools and the ALP’s promise of iPads for year 7 students says little about each party’s approach to broader education issues.)

The first is the LNP’s “Independent public schools” (IPS) policy. Details of this policy can be found on this website’s election roundup pages , but a little more has become clear over the past few days.

In news interviews airing this week on regional WIN television, the current opposition education spokesperson Bruce Flegg has let a little more of the IPS cat out of the bag. When questioned about the policy’s impact on the teacher transfer system, which LNP public documents had claimed would be “maintained”, Mr Flegg claimed the transfer system was flawed and teachers who worked in remote areas “became very good teachers and would be in demand when it comes time to interview teachers”. He also said school “boards and headmasters” would be the big winners from the IPS program. Shouldn’t teachers and students be the “winners”? And do Mr Flegg’s comments presage a dismantling of the transfer system and the teachers’ awards?

The other major announcement was the LNP’s “Building our future schools” program, in which $115 million of extra capital funding for schools over four years would be allocated 75% to non-government schools, and 25% to state schools. When criticised by the QTU for this extraordinary decision, the LNP publicly attacked the QTU for “misreading and misrepresenting the LNP’s announcement”. We’re still not sure what part of giving only 25% of desperately needed new infrastructure funding to the schools that educate 70% of students – and which are completely dependent on government funding, being government schools – the LNP doesn’t understand is wrong.

We cannot evaluate Campbell Newman’s performance because he has never been a state MP, even for the opposition. We can only look at what he’s said during the election campaign – and what he has refused to say – and draw conclusions on what is likely to happen if he becomes the new Queensland Premier.

When the QTU wrote to the leaders of the four parties asking that they guarantee QTU members’ access to an independent industrial umpire and their right to bargain, plus a commitment to protect their working conditions, only the ALP and Greens responded. Neither has the LNP committed to the QCU’s Charter for Working Queenslanders.

The QTU will continue to be open to frank consultation and negotiation with whoever forms government. The near future will reveal whether the incoming government, of whatever flavour, will be open to such consultation.

Kevin Bates
23 March 2012