To change the rules, we might just have to change the government...
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 124 No 2, 15 March 2019, page no. 12
As yet another federal election looms, it is easy for people to be cynical about the political process in this country. A revolving door of Prime Ministers, political scandals and a political elite who sometimes seem out of touch with the realities of everyday life.
So why do we bother? We get involved because we care. We care about the type of community we live in and the we care about the future of the students we teach every day. This election is an opportunity to send a message to Canberra that we will not stand by and let state schools be funded less favourably than private schools by the federal government.
More than a decade of campaigning saw the Gonski Review and new investment in education welcomed by many. But the Turnbull and now Morrison governments have chosen to cap funding for all state schools at 20 per cent of the recommended schooling resource standard (SRS) while funding non-government schools at 80 per cent. There is no constitutional or historical reason for this. It is a policy choice the government has made which will see 65 per cent of these schools reaching 100 per cent of the SRS in combined state and federal funding.
So if we can’t get the policy changed to ensure all state schools reach 100 per cent of the SRS in combined state and federal funding, perhaps it is time to change the government?
The QTU will be heavily engaged in three campaigns this years leading up the the election. The first is our ongoing Fair Funding Now! campaign. The second is the Put TAFE First campaign, which is seeking a guarantee that 70 per cent of all vocational education and training funding will be delivered through TAFE.
The final campaign is the broader union movement’s Change The Rules campaign.
Permanently employed members of the QTU are some of the most securely employed people in the whole of the Australian economy. But if we do not stand side by side with our colleagues, friends, family and neighbours in other unions, the world of work as we know it may be changed forever. There is dignity in secure employment and we should do everything we can to ensure that the industrial relations system allows workers to collectively bargain and not have their salary and conditions undercut through sham contracting arrangements, indirect labour hire employment relationships and casualisation.
The QTU will work with other unions through the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) to get the message out to the community in the lead up to the election.
The Change The Rules campaign has three specific objectives:
- more secure jobs
- fair pay rises
- fairness for working women.
These three issues sit in parallel with the ongoing work we are doing with members in EB9 (schools) and EB10 (TAFE).
The QTU’s strategic objectives guide our engagement in movement wide political campaigning. The fourth strategic objective states:
"4. Strong influence over the state/federal education/training agenda
The impact of politics and governments at both state and federal levels on public education, training and teaching is so profound that it simply cannot be ignored. The QTU is not affiliated with any political party. The Union will lobby and publicise the views not only of governments, but individual members of parliament and candidates. QTU campaigns will seek to help elect governments and candidates who support teachers, school leaders, TAFE, public schools and workers’ rights."
The American civil rights leader John Lewis once said: “If not now, then when? If not us then who?”
We have an opportunity to fix funding for public education and improve workers' rights across the community. The choices we make and the actions we take before the upcoming federal election may just make all the difference.
If you would like to be involved in one of the campaigns listed above, please contact your Regional Organiser.