Colin Barnett

Colin Barnett


    Labor suffering memory loss and lack of flair in education: Minister

    17/01/2001 3:39 PM

    Education Minister Colin Barnett said today Labor Leader Geoff Gallop was suffering from convenient memory loss and lacked the ability to do simple arithmetic when it came to education.

    Dr Gallop’s incentives to attract teachers to regional Western Australia were merely a rehash of Coalition policies announced as early as 1996 and implemented from 1998.

    Mr Barnett said the Labor policies announced yesterday displayed a distinct lack of originality and imagination and showed that Labor could not do its sums.

    “I suppose I should be flattered that Labor has so very little which is fresh to announce that it is reduced to re-announcing Coalition initiatives,” he said.

    “But at the same time the electorate must be pretty bored with its sense of d�j� vu.

    “And voters should be particularly concerned that Labor will slash the amount of money spent building and upgrading regional schools by $2 million.

    “The State Government has already budgeted $152 million over four years for regional schools while Labor plans to spend $150 million.

    “This sort of commitment says a lot about Labor’s bleating about the lack of money spent on schools.

    “Labor has also announced that it would spend $17 million upgrading Mt Lawley Senior High School - I announced the Government would spend that amount last year.

    “There is very little new in Labor’s scholarship scheme, which the Coalition implemented in 1998, and which includes the payment of HECS fees.”

    Mr Barnett said he outlined the Coalition’s commitment to attracting teachers to WA’s regions during the 1996 State election campaign.

    $27 million was to be spent from 1999 until mid-2002 on allowances and benefits for teachers in rural and remote schools through the Remote Teaching Service and Country Incentives Package.

    “Under the incentives teachers received significantly improved financial benefits and attractive career incentives in return for their commitment to regional and remote schools for at least two years, providing stability and reducing staff turnover,” the Minister said.

    In broad terms, professional career incentives included:
    • an offer of permanency after completing a two year stint in specific regional schools;
    • bonus transfer points for each year of service in the regions;
    • use of accrued sick leave so staff could access health-related facilities and services; and -
    • provision of additional full-time relief teachers in the Goldfields and Esperance regions to replace teachers taking leave.

    Financial benefits included:
    • payment of a number of allowances - annual travel concessions and airconditioning subsidies - combined into a regular fortnightly instalment;
    • cash bonus payment based on school location and family circumstances; and -
    • a loading to offset increased tax on an allowance which would be included in salaries.

    “In 1999, 1,800 teachers and administrators were taking advantage of the package and 85 per cent of them were retained last year,” Mr Barnett said.

    “More than 800 teachers were made permanent in 1999 and 2000 and another 1,000 are expected to be made permanent this year.”

    Mr Barnett said the State Government spent $740,000 on scholarships to attract people into the teaching profession.

    He said these included boarding and Aboriginal scholarships.

    Media contact: Diana Callander 9222 9699