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  Issue No 47 Official Organ of LaborNet 24 March 2000  

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Politics

"I Can't Believe It's Not Peter Reith":

By Lee Rhiannon - NSW Greens, MLC

The NSW Labor Government is waging a dirty campaign against the NSW Teachers Federation in order to gain the upper hand in the long running award dispute.

It started with a series of lies about the Teachers Federation's bans on a literacy test and reached fever pitch last week in a three days of "special reports" in the Telegraph. Premier Carr has taken a leading role in the assault.

Teachers in NSW knew that the propaganda war was on in earnest when they read the Sydney Morning Herald of Friday 10 March. In response to a Teachers Federation ban on this year's literacy test, the Department of Education and Training had spent more than $8,000 to place an advertisement, supposedly apologising to parents that their children would not be tested this year and suggesting that they address their complaints to the Teachers Federation.

These were mere crocodile tears. The government could have solved the issue at any time by promising to not re-allocate specialist teachers for students with learning difficulties (STLD) based on the results of the test.

The reality is that the State provides a mere 341specialist teachers learning difficulties. This is just not enough, and until funding is found to match the need, teachers and schools will zealously guard their specialist teaching positions. As long as the Department and the Minister refuse to guarantee that no school would loose its specialist teachers based on its literacy test results, no teacher of good conscience could allow the test to proceed.

This was not, however, the government's real agenda. They were in the middle of a six week negotiation period with teachers and their union over the award.

The following week, Rupert Murdoch's Telegraph picked up the cudgel and set to, with a three day "Special Report" that promised to expose the real power in the Federation. Starting out with quotes from Federal Education Minister Dr David Kemp and disaffected former union executive and now Education bureaucrat, Van Davy, the Telegraph sought to establish that the Federation used stand-over tactics and has wilfully and maliciously blocked every reform proposal advanced by the current Labor government. Murdoch's journalists used every trick in the book to smear the Union as undemocratic and obstructionist.

The Greens experience of the Federation is that it is a role model of democratic decision making, managed by people who work hard to protect and promote the social benefits of public education. Like all big lies, the Telegraph's rantings sought to turn reality on its head .

It is commonly accepted that the driving force behind the so-called special report was Carr, Aquilina and their bureaucrats. In the early days of this NSW Labor government, Murdoch's Fox organisation was given the old Sydney Show Grounds in Moore Park to develop an entertainment complex and film studios in a highly contentious deal, the details of which are yet to be fully explained. Many people would argue that Rupert Murdoch effectively sits at the NSW Cabinet table.

It appears that Labor will stop at nothing to force through their award proposals, which would savagely damage public education and further erode teachers' pay and conditions. Truth is mere road kill in this game.

Behind this distortion lies a frightening reality. No government has been prepared to address the chronic funding crisis in public education. Until funds are found to pay teachers and resource classrooms, the drift to private schools will continue to accelerate with massive adverse social justice consequences.

This is a matter of government priorities. Total government expenditure on private schools since 1993/94 has grown by almost 25% in real terms while there has been a significant decline in expenditure on public education. The Greens have developed a private member's bill that would begin to address this unfair and dangerous funding bias. We hope to have it debated in the NSW parliament later this year and to start the process of securing a real growth in funds for public sector education.

It is shocking to see a Labor government resort to Peter Reith smear tactics. Bob Carr and John Aquilina have become the enemies of both public education and have alienated an important element of the trade union movement. The Greens call on them to remember the origins of their party and to stop reading the Telegraph.


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*   Issue 47 contents

In this issue
Features
*  Interview: Telstra Troubleshooter
Andrew Hillard first blew the whistle on Mal Colston’s expenses rorts; now he’s taking on Telstra over its tactics to drive down wages and conditions.
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*  Unions: A Christmas (Recruitment) Story
Staff at the Illawarra Mutual Building Society organised their own Christmas present - and, with the help of a little e-mail, delivered 80 new members to the ASU's Clerical and Administrative Branch.
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*  International: A Move to the Left?
John Passant look’s at ‘Red Ken’ Livingstone’s tilt at Mayor of London and what it means for the Radical Left.
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*  Legal: Going Broke: What Workers Should Do
A no nonsense guide to protecting your entitlements when the boss goes bust.
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*  Politics: "I Can't Believe It's Not Peter Reith":
The NSW Labor Government is waging a dirty campaign against the NSW Teachers Federation in order to gain the upper hand in the long running award dispute.
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*  History: One Big Nation
In the 1920’s rural Australia was arguing for its share of the national wealth through The Bush Workers Propaganda Group.
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*  Satire: Toddler Death Fallout: BMW Releases New Oven
The Victorian Government has turned up the heat on the gambling and car industries following a spate of children being locked inside cars.
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*  Review: The Stranger from Hobart
In his controversial new book, Peter Botsman lifts the lid on the unsung hero of federation, Andrew Inglis Clark
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News
»  Insurance Deal Guarantees Entitlements
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»  Casual Work Inquiry Moves Closer
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»  Questions Over National Push for 36 Hours Week
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»  WA Govt Pulls Plug on Unionists
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»  A Fair Day’s Surf
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»  Hotel Workers Jam AIRC
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»  PM's Security Guards Walk off the Job
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»  SOCOG Dances: Budget Not There
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»  Women Win Right To Wear Trousers
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»  Another Rustbucket On Our Coast
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»  Catholic School Teachers Endorse Strike Action
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»  We Can't Share the Spirit If We Can’t Afford the Rent
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»  Unionist Honoured Posthumously
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»  Radio Free East Timor
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Columns
»  The Soapbox
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»  The Locker Room
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»  Trades Hall
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»  Tool Shed
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Letters to the editor
»  Carr's Parisian Lunchmate
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»  Send Us a Letter
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