Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr ROCKLIFF
Did you see that furious crowd out on the lawns earlier? They were disappointed not to see you or your Education minister. The thousands gathered there today know that instead of putting educators, support staff, and Tasmanian children first, you are prioritising a $1 billion fantasy football stadium. Do you understand how that makes them feel?
On the lawns this morning we heard that teachers and support staff feel broken and burnt out. Students are waiting for assessments or support from school social workers, psychologists, and speech and language pathologists. Caseloads mount and vacancies remain unfilled. That is not investing in trauma-informed practice.
Negotiations have stalled under the dithering Roger Jaensch. It is a crisis in our schools and you have allowed negotiations with the AEU to drag on for 14 months. What are you going to do about it?
Mr Speaker, we will always sit down and negotiate in good faith. Ms O'Connor, my understanding is the negotiations have been going since June 2022. We will continue to sit down, negotiate in good faith, and highlight every step of the way how much we do value our educators in all settings. You cannot deny that the Government has invested more funding in schools and education than any government before us. I remember a time when your policy on education was to close 20 schools.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker. The Premier has just misled the House. That was not Greens policy. It was a Greens minister who reversed a Labor decision.
Mr SPEAKER - It is not a point of order.
Mr ROCKLIFF - I remember a time between 2010 and 2014 when - well, history is important -
Mr SPEAKER - Order, order. This is not a two-way conversation. The Premier should be heard in silence. It is a serious matter. The question has been put to the Premier by the Leader of the Greens. I will ask the Premier to continue.
Mr ROCKLIFF - As Premier and in my seven years as Education minister, I visited many of those schools that would have been closed under both your governments, Labor Greens government. It is clearly in the budget - the idea of closing 20 schools -
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker, on relevance. We asked this question on behalf of teachers and school support staff. Could the Premier just tell the House what he is doing about it?
Mr SPEAKER - Again, I must point out that when you make a point of order it is not an opportunity to make another statement to the House. I will convey the point of relevance to the Premier. I am sure he will make a connection through his answer to your question.
Ms O'Connor - Thank you. It is the school staff who want an answer.
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Mr ROCKLIFF - Mr Speaker, I will not speak any more of the history that every school community knows. What I was going to say was that I have visited a number of the schools that were earmarked for closure in the 2011 budget, where school communities rallied against that budget and they - the community - saved those schools from closure. It fills me with a great deal of pride that I go to those schools and I see them thriving.
I like that we go to schools where people appreciate the fact that we have increased the full-time equivalent of teachers by 435 since 2014, and 240 full-time equivalents since 2018. We are investing $8.5 billion into our education system over the next four years, and $250 million in infrastructure investments for new and upgraded schools. Yesterday, I mentioned Legana and Brighton as good examples. There is more than $100 million to transform TasTAFE with 100 extra teachers, another key reform to align our public training provider with industry; a key reform we have fought for, we went to election on, that those opposite opposed every step of the way. Where we have invested and reformed education and training those opposite have opposed those key reforms, which are designed to support our young people and to give them the best opportunities. All the evidence is there that the longer we engage our young people in a school environment to further their education, the longer they will live, the healthier they will be, and be productive members of our community.
I will always sit down and work with and negotiate in good faith with our teaching workforce, and the Australian Education Union. I had a very good collaborative relationship with the Australian Education Union when I was Education minister, and it is my desire for that to continue.