20 October 2021

Ms TRISH DOYLE (Blue Mountains) (19:08): Via video link: Good evening, Mr Speaker. It is good to see you. Hello to everyone. I can see my colleague, the member for Gosford, a fellow former chalkie. My remarks tonight will be similar to comments she has already put on the record. I speak tonight about the NSW Teachers Federation More Than Thanks campaign. I will talk about the fact that teacher salaries are declining. I start by noting that the volume and complexity of teachers' work has changed substantially and dramatically in the past couple of decades, and that salaries have not kept pace. The Teachers Federation, and any teacher or school you talk to, will tell you that it makes them feel less than professional. Teachers' salaries, compared with those of other professionals, are fading. Research conducted by the University of Sydney Business School found that primary and secondary teachers have amongst the lowest incomes of all the major professions examined.

The Teachers Federation has called for an increase in salaries that reflects teachers' skills and the work they actually do. It is a reset. They are asking for an increase of between 5 per cent and 7½ per cent a year in the next wage agreement. When the award expires at the end of December, I call out to our new Treasurer to hop to it and support a pay increase for public school teachers. I move on to the teacher shortage and the staffing crisis that exists and will only get worse. The Government is engaging in spin and a gimmick‑related campaign to try to match the Teachers Federation campaign. It has offered to recruit 500 teachers from the United Kingdom and Canada to come here and earn less to work harder. I understand that the Minister has misled Parliament, against all the recommendations of the Teachers Federation. The department's own briefing says that the profession is not attractive.

If the Teachers Federation, on behalf of its members, is trying desperately to negotiate with the Government and the Government responds by notifying it that it is entering into a dispute, what does that tell us? It tells us that this Government does not care. I move on to teacher workloads. The More Than Thanks campaign aims to draw the community's attention to the outrageous and unsustainable situation of declining teacher salaries, increasing teacher workloads and the staffing crisis. I wonder whether people across New South Wales are aware that many teachers struggle in precarious employment—30 per cent of the workforce are temporary casual teachers. Before I stepped into this role I was a casual teacher for 25 years, and it is a hard life. You feel the Government sees you as unworthy.

I heard a story today of a schoolteacher who has been temporary for 16 years. We are losing good people. Teachers are on leave—if they are not leaving. Many are downtrodden and morale has never been lower. People are falling over. Many have psychological injuries and many are bullied by bureaucrats up the line who are apologists for this Government. This is a government that seeks to save a buck at any cost; it seeks efficiency dividends over and above people's lives. The Government might say thanks, but thanks will not cut it. On behalf of the Teachers Federation, its fantastic president, its organisers and the teachers, we say that they deserve more.