Question - Teachers Dispute


In the Waite electorate, there are families in Belair and Blackwood who will be impacted by school and preschool closures. The good news is that, across the rest of the Waite electorate, there are schools that are remaining open, either with full learning programs or indeed in some cases with modified programs.

The last information that I have been given is that across South Australia there will be 692 school and preschool sites staying open tomorrow for the whole day, and we are so grateful to the teachers, to the school leaders, to the SSOs who have decided that the best interests of the children come first, and they are turning up at work to do their job.

Members interjecting:

The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: I know that the deputy leader doesn't want them to do so, and that is a great disappointment, but the government is very grateful to all those teachers who are undertaking their work seriously because teaching is a noble profession, it is a calling, and we are grateful to those teachers who are putting their students first.

There are 183 schools that will be closing tomorrow until 12.15. That is going to be of significant disruption to many families, and it is of course going to be a disruption to the learning programs of the students in those schools. Many students who are undertaking year 10 and year 11 exams are having their programs disrupted. I spoke to a parent last night of a child who is due to be in a reception transition class at one of the schools that is being closed tomorrow, and that transition class the school has identified is unable to be replicated prior to that child going into reception next year, and that is replicated in a number of ways.

Dr Close interjecting:

The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: The Deputy Leader of the Opposition says it's the teachers' fault. I don't think it is the teachers' fault: I think this is the union leadership. The union leadership has made a decision—

Dr Close interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The deputy leader is called to order.

The Hon. S.S. Marshall: Maybe she's supporting strike action.

The SPEAKER: The Premier is called to order.

Dr Close interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The deputy leader is warned.

The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: —to undertake industrial action without making a case—

Mr Boyer interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The member for Wright is called to order.

The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: —as to why that industrial action should be made. They have made a log of claims, thus far totalling about half a billion dollars a year by the education department's calculations. They have said that wages don't form part of that claim and don't go into the reason why they are going on strike, yet they have asked for an interim wage rise of about double what the inflation rate is.

Ms Hildyard interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The member for Reynell is called to order.

The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: If all the union’s claims were to be put in place, that would be more than half a billion dollars per year prior to us being able to deliver some of the significant reforms that the people of South Australia indeed voted for this government to undertake to do. We have already put in excess of $500 million a year extra into the budget from 2021-22. We have put money into the budget over—

Dr Close interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Deputy leader, cease interjecting, please.

The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: —enrolment growth and over that which was left in the budget by our predecessors in the hundreds of millions of dollars. More than $700 million was added into the budget just two weeks ago to unlock extra federal government money that was previously not budgeted, which was not left in the budget when those opposite were in government.

Dr Close interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Deputy leader, please!

The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: This is a government that has invested hundreds of millions of dollars extra into education into our public schools over and above what was left in the budget settings left by our predecessors. We are investing significantly in schools. We are investing significantly in public schools. We are keen to increase—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: —educational attainment by every child in this state, and we wish those opposite would have had the same priorities when they were in government or in the future, but instead they are giving tacit approval for this strike which will so disadvantage so many South Australian students and families.

Dr Close interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order! Deputy leader, please. The Leader of the Opposition has the call.

The Hon. S.S. Marshall interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The Premier is called to order!