11 April 2016    No. 09-16
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Term 2: Election and EB

Gonski and the federal election

There is ongoing speculation that a double dissolution federal election (House of Representative and full Senate) will be held on 2 July 2016. At stake is the full implementation of the Gonski reforms to deliver a needs-based funding system.

The absolute latest date for a double dissolution election is 16 July. In order to achieve that, the government has to call the election no later than 11 May. The federal budget has been brought forward from 10 May to 3 May.

If a double dissolution election does not occur, the federal election (House of Representatives and half Senate) is likely to be held by September or October in any case.

The Gonski funding reforms that teachers and parents have campaigned and fought for over nearly a decade are at stake in this election. The Rudd government was elected in 2007 on a platform that included the review of school funding to institute a needs-based model. The review was conducted by a panel chaired by eminent businessman David Gonski, who produced a report in December 2011. In early 2013, the by then Gillard government started seeking bilateral agreements with the states for the implementation of the needs-based sector-blind funding model recommended by the Gonski review. Because of the scope of the change, the federal government proposed phasing-in the additional funding over a period of six years.

So effective was our campaign, the Abbott opposition went to the 2013 federal election claiming that it was on a “unity ticket” with the ALP on school funding reform. Following its election, the Abbott government tried to break its promise, but public pressure – teachers and parents again – forced them to commit to Gonski for the first four years of the phase-in. Two-thirds of the additional funding, however, was to be provided in years five and six: in school terms, 2018 and 2019.

Queensland teachers know Gonski funding as Investing for Success and previously Great Results Guarantee.

Our campaign for the “Full Gonski” reforms and funding focuses on the federal election. The ALP have promised the full Gonski, if elected. It was their policy and commitment from the start. The Greens also support full implementation.
Far from committing to the “Full Gonski”, Prime Minister Turnbull appears to be backing even further away from the Gonski model of funding aimed at overcoming educational disadvantage, including suggesting in media interviews that while federal governments had an obligation to fund private schools, they did not necessarily have such an obligation to fund state schools. He has also remained committed to reducing growth in federal schools funding to no more than that required to cover enrolment growth and CPI, with no reference to student need.

Action

 Contact your local federal MP and Senator before the federal budget on 3 May 2016.  Tell them about what Gonski funding is doing in your school and demand the full Gonski.

Enrol to vote – First deadline is 18 May

Are you correctly enrolled to vote? If an election is called on 11 May, the closing date to enrol or update your details (e.g. address) will be 18 May.

You can enrol or check your enrolment at the Australian Electoral Commission website (www.aec.gov.au).

EB8

Negotiations have commenced on the replacement enterprise bargaining agreement (EB8) for state schools. After a period of nearly six months discussion among members, the QTU’s claim was endorsed by the Union State Council on 12 March.

The current agreement expires on 30 June 2016, and the QTU wants a new agreement that addresses our claims from 1 July. Usual government policy is to backdate an agreement only to the first day of the month in which “in principle” agreement is reached. The deadline for a 1 July start date then is 31 July. Of course, this is a matter of practice rather than legislation, and can be varied by the government.

Preliminary negotiations have already commenced with the department and a procedural agreement for good faith bargaining has been made.

Bargaining will occur under what is essentially Newman government legislation, though the limitations on what an agreement can include (e.g. permanency, class size) have been removed. The Union had hoped that new fairer industrial legislation arising from the Palasczuk government’s review of industrial legislation would already be in place. However, it now appears that the legislation will be introduced in the second half of 2016.

While it is premature to talk about industrial action, the timelines and procedures for undertaking protected industrial action under legislation are worth noting. Protected industrial action requires a ballot to be conducted by the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ). In 2012, that process took around 10 weeks. The QTU can make an application to have a ballot conducted no earlier than 30 days before the expiry of the current agreement - that is 31 May. That is only seven weeks of negotiations

Updates on bargaining will be included in future newsflashes and posted to the QTU website as negotiations progress.

Joint statement on collection and use of data

Be on the look-out for a separate Newsflash on the latest agreement between the QTU and the Department on the collection and use of data in schools. The agreement is the next step in dealing with workload issues arising from data driving rather than informing practice.

Labour Day 2016

Around Queensland workers will celebrate Labour Day and the 125th anniversary of the 1891 Shearers’ strike on the weekend of 30 April – 2 May with the holiday back in May where it belongs.

Join your fellow workers and unionists in celebrating the union’s movement’s achievements and demanding a fair Australia.

A separate Newsflash will provide the dates and times of Labour Day marches across Queensland.


 Authorised by Graham Moloney, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union