Union bosses ‘deliberately misleading’ parents over SA education funding ahead of planned teachers’ strike

Public claims made by union bosses from the Australian Education Union alleging the State Government’s additional education funding wouldn’t kick-in in the short term are ‘pure nonsense and deliberately misleading’ ahead of its planned teachers’ strike next week.

Treasurer Rob Lucas said the Marshall Government was delivering a record investment in education – with State Budget papers showing recurrent annual funding for schools increasing by $515 million from 2017-18 to 2021-22 – the biggest investment in schools by any State Government in the state’s history.

“Union bosses should be discussing with the Government the best ways to spend this massive increase in funding to positively impact student learning outcomes, rather than going on strike,” said Treasurer Lucas.

Mr Lucas said this funding was on top of the $1 billion being invested in capital projects, including two brand new birth to Year 12 schools for the metropolitan area delivered under a Public Private Partnership model, and a new $100 million school in Whyalla.

“For the head of the Australian Education Union in SA to come out publicly today and criticise the government’s increase in education funding, alleging it won’t kick-in until three years’ time is pure nonsense and deliberately misleading,” said Treasurer Lucas.

“A quick glance at the State Budget papers shows an additional $196 million in recurrent funding this year compared to last year. There are further increases of $135 million next year, then $51 million extra in 2020-21 and $133m extra in 2021-22.

“In addition to this massive increase in funding, the State Government has just signed a 10-year Federal/State funding deal which locks in big increases in Federal and State Government funding in the following year.

“AEU SA Branch president Howard Spreadbury knows this, yet still goes on radio this morning to allege that our funding boost won’t be immediate, and will focus on infrastructure, building new schools and transitioning Year 7 students in high school only.”

Mr Lucas said the union should also apologise to parents, grandparents and caregivers for the disruption that will be caused if next Thursday’s planned state-wide schools strike goes ahead.

“While we can’t see any plausible, logical or rational reason behind next week’s impending strike, the least the union bosses could have done is hold their ballot this week or last to give hard-working parents and grandparents a little bit of notice,” said Treasurer Lucas.

“The timing of the ballot is designed to cause maximum disruption to families as they might only have less than 48 hours’ notice if their school will be closed.”

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