Response to state budget

State budget builds new schools, cuts support and caps salaries

Whilst providing increased investment in capital works and maintenance for public schools, the NSW budget fails to adequately and fairly support the teachers responsible for delivering public education by cutting support staff in head office and maintaining the salary cap, Federation President Maurie Mulheron said today.

Capital works and maintenance spending

For decades, NSW public schools have experienced shortfalls in capital works and maintenance funding.

In the context of the projected increase in student enrolments of more than 20 per cent over the next 15 years, the increased infrastructure investment of $4.2 billion over four years announced by the government is both overdue and necessary.

Much greater investment will be needed in coming years, however, if all students are to be educated in high quality, 21stcentury classrooms.

Continuing cuts to administrative and educational support for public schools

The NSW Government is continuing to cut the number of administrative and educational support positions in the Department of Education by implementing its so-called ‘annual efficiency dividend’. This forces government departments to make a 1.5 per cent cut each year to operating costs.

From 2018-2019, the rate of this ‘efficiency dividend’ will be increased from 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent for three years.

This will place greater pressure on public schools as they receive ever-diminishing support from the Department. It will push ever-increasing work onto principals, executives and classroom teachers who are already overburdened with workload pressures.

2.5 per cent per annum salary cap to be maintained

The NSW Government has confirmed it will continue to implement its Public Sector Wages Policy. This imposes a 2.5 per cent per annum salary cap on all public sector employees.

With a current budget surplus of $4.5 billion and projected surplus of $2.7 billion for 2017-2018, it is unjust and unwarranted for the government to continue to deny public education teachers the right to pursue a salary increase on the basis of work value and other factors such as housing affordability and professional relativities.

By continuing with its salary cap, the government is undermining the Department’s capacity to recruit and retain the number of principals, executives and classroom teachers required to cater for the significant increase in student enrolments.

State budget: missed opportunity to invest in TAFE

Despite a $4.5 billion budget surplus, the NSW Government has missed an opportunity to invest more heavily in the education and skills development of TAFE students, Federation President Maurie Mulheron said today.

While there is a small increase in total TAFE expenditure of 0.2 per cent, this is inadequate to repair the damage created by the ongoing cuts to TAFE funding as a consequence of the Smart and Skilled contestable funding policy introduced in 2015.

Only $1.7 billion of the $1.8 billion 2016-17 TAFE budget was spent. The $105 million should be immediately invested in TAFE students’ education.

The 2016-17 capital expenditure budget was underspent by $30 million. The new budget of $131 million for 2017-18 must be invested in college infrastructure. The Minister must rule out any further sales of TAFE colleges.

Since 2012, 5689 full time equivalent TAFE employees have lost their jobs — 36 per cent of fulltime equivalent positions. Further job losses are forecast for 2017-18, at a time when TAFE should be rebuilding its teacher workforce.

Student enrolments are still 63,019 lower compared to enrolments in 2012.

Federation will continue to campaign for NSW TAFE students to receive high quality, fully-funded public vocational education at their local TAFE college.