Kevin Bates, QTU President

President’s comment 29 June 2012

Dark days indeed, and little prospect of a new dawn….

Today will be the last day on the job for many public servants – the Government won’t reveal exactly how many are for the chop, but no doubt thousands of people will be directly affected through the impacts on their families.

The Government’s rhetoric has firmly centred around two alleged “facts”:
 - that the state can’t afford the positions, and
 - that they’re not frontline positions so their loss won’t affect service delivery.

The first proposition is based on the interim report of the Commission of Audit; what the report does not provide is a full context about the increasing costs of public service delivery due not only to raw population growth and the impacts of natural disasters, but also the increasing complexity and level of need in the community. There are also heightened expectations from the voting community about how and when their needs will be met; by no means an unreasonable expectation, but one which squarely falls on the shoulders of “the bureaucracy”, not the elected politicians, to deliver.

Anyone working in Queensland schools will understand these pressures. There are also the ever-increasing demands brought to bear not by the community, but by the politicians themselves. In the past few years, education professionals have been burdened with implementing a raft of “reforms” with questionable educational value – the NAPLAN testing regime is the most obvious. Add to that a wide range of other changes (with an equally wide range of educational benefit) including the Australian curriculum, the introduction of prep, the move of year 7 and the incursion of systems such as OneSchool, and the workload implications become clear.

The second proposition is nothing more than nonsense. The Government’s dismissal of support staff as “non-frontline” and so somehow of “no value” to the people to whom government workers provide service shows, at best, how little our new leaders understand about delivering public service and, at worst, how much they are prepared to sacrifice real working people and their families to make a point against the previous government.

Without the teacher transfer system and the public servants who manage it, how would a state as diverse as Queensland provide education to children at each and every state school?

Without the IT workers to manage the central systems that teachers and principals are obliged to use and the school-based systems that are integral to 21st century education delivery, how can teachers do their day-to-day work including delivering the Australian curriculum, or producing report cards, or developing innovative techniques to share with their colleagues?

The list goes on and on.

But wait; unfortunately, there is more in store for Queensland schools.

The Newman Government’s Independent Public Schools scheme is being pushed through as an “election promise”, not as an initiative with any demonstrated benefit for schools within the scheme, nor for those outside it.

The workload impact of turning principals into business managers instead of education leaders is enormous. The potential damage to curriculum delivery is huge. The lack of guarantees about what IPS schools will gain from the scheme, in light of what they may lose, is gravely concerning.

Queensland teachers and principals, the children they teach, and the support staff who help them every day deserve more than a “trust us, we’re the government” attitude from the ruling politicians.

Kevin Bates
QTU President