NSW State election report

To help NSW IEU members make an informed choice at the state election on Saturday, 28 March, Newsmonth has produced this report. We asked the three major parties for their positions on a number of key issues around these topics:

  • Non-government school funding
  • Public sector pay cap of 2.5%
  • Funding for students with disabilities
  • TAFE funding
  • Early childhood education funding
  • Early childhood teachers pay parity
  • Religious discrimination in employment
  • Safe schools for GLBTI students
  • Consultation on education policy and legislation.
  1. Will your party maintain funding for NSW non-government schools at its current rate or would your party seek to improve it?
  2. Will your party commit to bargaining in good faith with public sector employees? Will your party commit to not being bound by the 2.5% salary cap when negotiating with public sector employees?
  3. Will your party commit to providing more funding to support children with special needs in non-government schools? Will your party commit to demanding the Federal Government increase funding for students with special needs in non-government schools?
  4. Will your party reverse the funding cuts that have been made to TAFE? Will your party commit to expanding access to TAFE and other further education opportunities in the future?
  5. NSW lags behind other states in the amount of money that is invested in early childhood. Funding has not been significantly increased for years. Would your government commit to increased funding?
  6. Early childhood teachers earn up to 20% less than school teachers. What would your government do to ensure early childhood teachers earn the same as teachers in schools?
  7. Will your party amend the Equal Opportunity Act so that the ability of religious employers to discriminate is limited to circumstances where the appointment is of an inherently religious nature?
  8. Does your party commit to increase funding to the Safe Schools Coalition for GLBTI (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex) students, in order to ensure that it can be actively promoted to all non-government schools for consideration?
  9. What is your party’s consultative plan for the development of policy and draft legislation in relation to education and learning?

The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is driven by putting students at the heart of all decisions we make about education.


The NSW Government was the first in Australia to sign up the Gonski school education funding reforms which will deliver increased resources to non-Government schools. The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has made a commitment to fund the Gonski reforms for the full six years of the agreement.

The decision to sign up to Gonski was endorsed by the Catholic Education Commission and the Association of Independent Schools.

The Gonski school funding agreement will see an additional $789 million delivered to the NSW non-Government school sectors over the period 2014 to 2019. We have faith in how the non-government sector will use its Gonski funds.

NSW Government funding for non-Government schools was increased to more than $1 billion in the 2014/15 NSW Budget. NSW Government funding to non-Government schools helps to cover the cost of educating students and the Building Grants Assistance Scheme also provides funding for new schools and upgrades to existing schools.

In 2014, the NSW Government introduced the Preschool Funding Model, which makes $150 million available to the community preschool sector – an increase of 20% on previous levels.

Under the new teachers award, the NSW Government will recognise and reward high performing public school classroom teachers who achieve accreditation at the highly accomplished standard with a salary of more than $100,000 a year from 2016.

We are modernising TAFE NSW to make it a more effective and efficient provider of training. Don’t believe the lies of the NSW Teachers Federation. We are reforming TAFE, so that it is more focussed on training for jobs in areas such as aged care, child care and nursing, instead of Fine Arts courses such as pottery.

In 2014-15, the budget for vocational education and training is $2.3 billion, including $1.86 billion for TAFE NSW. The 2014-15 budget for vocational education and training is 11 per cent higher than Labor’s 2011 budget.

The Smart and Skilled reforms in NSW will mean 60,000 more training places in 2015 than if we had not made changes.

TAFE NSW enrolments in 2013 have risen by 9% compared to 2009.

In 2011 we established the NSW Schools Advisory Council (SAC) — a cross-sectoral advisory body comprising the heads of the three school sectors and the President of the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES).

We have strong, productive relationships across the school sectors and the SAC is consulted, and has active input into, every major cross-sectoral policy reform in NSW. Consultation is a vital part of the development of the NSW Government’s education policies and one of the key reasons the policies have been so well received.

An example is the Government’s Great Teaching, Inspired Learning reforms, designed to lift the performance of every student in every class, with every teacher, in every school every day.

We are raising the bar for school leavers to get into University to undertake teacher training, raising the bar to get out of University and into classrooms, raising the bar on the support and mentoring our beginning teachers receive, and raising the bar to require all teachers to meet the BOSTES standards.

We are committed to working with the Government and non-Government school authorities, teacher education providers and education stakeholders to deliver these reforms for teachers and students in NSW.

Further education policies will be announced in the lead-up to the March 28 NSW election.

Adrian Piccoli

National Party NSW MP


1. NSW Labor will maintain the current funding rate for non-government schools. Labor supported the 2013 legislation facilitating the new funding model under the National Education Reform Agreement (NERA), and we note the legislation requires the Minister to review the model in 2017.

Labor will seek to improve funding for schools across NSW, but will be subject to the constraints imposed by Tony Abbott’s decision to renege on the level of Gonski funding provided by the federal government, resulting in cuts of more than $10 billion from NSW schools over the next ten years.

Labor is committed to supporting a thriving school education sector, including both government and non-government schools. That is why NSW Labor strongly supports the full ‘Gonski’ school funding reforms, which would provide an enormous funding boost to the schools that need it the most and a fairer approach to funding based on the needs of every student.

Labor will fight to restore the full Gonski funding commitment from the Abbott Government.

2. NSW Labor is committed to bargaining in good faith with public sector employees.

One of the first decisions of the Liberal-National Government was to introduce laws that stripped the Industrial Relations Commission of its power to set fair wages and conditions. Labor fought these changes in the Parliament and warned that it was giving the Government a blank cheque to cut jobs and reduce working conditions.

If Labor is elected to Government we will rebuild a properly functioning industrial court and commission in this State, because NSW deserves a properly resourced independent umpire with jurisdiction to deal with all workplace matters. When negotiating with public sector employees, Labor will focus on creating the public sector of the future – more flexibility, highly skilled, mobile, high performing and outcome driven.

3. NSW Labor supports the needs-based ‘Gonski’ school funding reforms, which provide greater support for students with special needs, regardless of which school sector they attend. Labor will seek to improve funding for schools across NSW, but will be subject to the constraints imposed by Tony Abbott’s decision to renege on the level of Gonski funding provided by the federal government, resulting in cuts of more than $10 billion from NSW schools over the next ten years.

Labor will fight to restore the full Gonski funding commitment from the Abbott Government and in doing so will demand an increase in funding students with special needs across all school sectors.

4. The Baird Liberal Government have cut funding to TAFE and are sending fees skyrocketing, pricing many students out of essential vocational training. If the Liberals and Nationals are given another four years then TAFE will be destroyed in the same way it has been in Victoria.

A Labor Government will always invest in TAFE in NSW. It has been a magnificent educational institution and provided training and opportunities to millions of people over many years right across the State.

NSW Labor will not stand by and watch one of the finest education systems in the world destroyed by the Baird Government, who are putting profits before students. Under Labor’s plan, The Liberals’ ‘Smart and Skilled’ privatisation program will be scrapped; TAFE Fees will be frozen at 2014 levels indexed to inflation; and a 30 per cent cap will be placed on the amount of public funds that can be contestable by private operators.

Labor believes equitable access to education is the foundation of a fair society – education is a lifelong process and access to vocational and academic streams must be available at all stages of life to all citizens

Labor will rebuild TAFE in NSW.

5. NSW Labor is committed to building a strong and effective early childhood education sector. Setting children on a strong path of lifelong learning and allowing parents to work should be considered a priority for all governments.

Making our state the social conscience and economic powerhouse of our nation necessitates that we consider this policy area seriously, preparing children for learning and increasing parents’ participation in the workforce will help NSW achieve these dual goals.

I note that the Baird Government has effectively delivered consecutive cuts to early child education, underspending its allocated budget by $211.9 million dollars in the last 2 full years.

Changes by the current government to the funding of regional preschool services have seen staffing cuts and a reduction in capacity. In our rural and regional areas these cuts are resulting in fee hikes as high as 55% for parents. A NSW Labor Government which was successful at the March 2015 election would, at the very least, spend every allocated dollar to improve services in this area.

NSW Labor will provide the full details of its early childhood education and care policy at a later date, before the election.

6. Early childhood education teachers are key to improving outcomes for young people, their work must not be undervalued.

NSW Labor supports increasing the wages paid to early childhood teachers and congratulates the IEU on the ‘Teachers Are Teachers’ campaign. NSW Labor is committed to engaging with the Federal Government to fight for wage increases for early childhood educators.

7. Labor is committed to promoting anti-discrimination and equal opportunity principles and policies throughout NSW, and we commit to ensure that the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977, and its application, is relevant in a modern context. It should be noted that Labor supported a recent proposal by the Member for Sydney to amend the Act to remove the exemption allowing discrimination of gay students in non- government schools.

Note: There is no Equal Opportunity Act in NSW, the relevant legislation is the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977.

8. NSW Labor has a proud history of implementing positive change to reduce homophobic bullying in NSW schools. Labor is deeply disappointed by the Baird Government’s decision to axe Labor’s ‘Proud Schools’ pilot program in the face of an independent evaluation that found positive results from the trial. The Proud Schools program was an essential part of the progress we can make to eliminate homophobia and bullying in our schools.

We note the Safe Schools Coalition is a federally funded program being delivered by Family Planning NSW, however if elected Labor would be eager to see the program expanded or a similar initiative, such as ‘Proud Schools’, introduced in NSW for consideration by all schools, with dedicated resources allocated to ensure its success.

9. In Government, NSW Labor will consult widely with relevant stakeholder groups and those affected by changes in the development of education policy.

Labor acknowledges that governments do not always have the best solution to every problem and we believe it is important that those affected by a policy decision are given the opportunity to provide feedback on proposals. We will also listen to and engage with stakeholders when new ideas are proposed from outside of government.

We acknowledge that no individual or organisation will agree with every decision taken by a government, but Labor is committed to respectful, participatory and regular contact with education stakeholders who have significant contributions to make to government policy.

The Shadow Minister for Education and Training intends to continue the important and productive working relationship developed between the IEU and NSW Labor.

Luke Foley

Labor Party NSW MP


1. The Abbott government's reneging on the last two years of the National Education Reform Agreement has created an $800 million deficit in public schools funding in NSW. In this environment, the funding of public education is a priority. We will be making a detailed policy announcement in the course of the campaign.

2. The Greens are committed to repealing legislation that binds the IRC to the 2.5% cap on public sector salaries. We believe that good faith negotiations with public sector employees is critical to wage justice, to recognising the importance and complexity of the work they do and to attracting the next generation of committed and enthusiastic .

3. Public education does the majority of the heavy lifting on special needs education and will continue to be the priority of the Greens.

4. The Greens have been leaders in the campaign against TAFE cuts and the Smart and Skilled competitive market for public funding. Our bill to stop Smart and Skilled passed the NSW Upper House after Labor and the Shooters and Fishers were persuaded to support it. We will introduce new legislation into the next parliament to restore TAFE funding, limit funding to non-government providers to 20% of total budget and prohibit for-profit providers from receiving public subsidies.

5. The Greens recognise that education begins at birth and that schooling outcomes are heavily influenced by quality early childhood experiences delivered by qualified teachers. We are committed to moving NSW to two years of quality free public preschooling for all children, starting with the most disadvantaged.

6. Early childhood education is a critical component of a child's development and can only be delivered by qualified professionals. It is essential that they be remunerated for the work they do that is no less demanding and no less responsible than a school teacher. We would move NSW to pay equality within 4 years.

7. We do not believe that non-government schools should be allowed to discriminate on grounds that are irrelevant to employment, including marital status, ethnic origin, race, colour, sexuality and physical disability. We further believe that if a teacher is willing to deliver the values of a school, then she or he should not be discriminated against on the grounds of religious belief.

8. The Greens have been strong supporters of the Safe Schools Coalition since its inception. We support its mandatory roll-out to non-government schools in NSW, paid for from the budgets of these schools. We are deeply concerned that the Proud Schools program was terminated under political pressure.

9. The Greens consult widely with teachers, both within the party and external to it. Our education policy was debated extensively after advice from a number of teachers. We welcome input from teacher unions and from teachers, parents and education experts.

John Kaye

Greens NSW MP