MORE than 150 teachers, education workers and parents gathered at the Narooma Golf Club on Friday evening to speak out against proposed $1.7 billion cuts to public education.
The meeting organised by local educators ended with teacher Roger McEvoy putting up the following motion: “The people at this meeting…oppose the cuts to public education funding and want our message and voices taken back to Barry O'Farrell.”
Member for Bega Andrew Constance could not make the meeting due to acute tonsillitis but instead arranged for Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer Matthew Mason-Cox to come down from Queanbeyan, who bore the brunt of the teachers and parents against the proposed cuts.
Conversely, NSW Greens education spokesman John Kaye spoke passionately against the cuts drawing much applause from the audience.
“Don’t let this happen, stand up and say no cuts to public education and demand the implementation of the Gonski report,” Mr Kaye said.
The irony of the State Government’s cutting its education budget at the same time the Federal Government was attempting to boost funding as recommended by the Gonski report was made.
Mr Kaye said it was cheaper to pay teachers than to keep people in jail and education was the key to a strong future.
There was also discussion about proposed cuts to TAFE frontline staff with former Labor candidate Leanne Atkinson speaking about how important vocational training was for regional people.
Also attending were former Narooma High School principal and now regional schools director Bob Aston, as well as Teacher’s Federation vice-president Joan Lemaire.
Mr Constance has since said he really wanted to be there.
“No teaching position will be lost as part of this restructure,” he said. “In actual fact, the O'Farrell Government has increased the number of teachers last year alone by 520,” he said.
“As a Government our focus is about more resources on the front line, as demonstrated by funding increases into special needs education at Narooma.
“Whilst it is not fully understood as to the impact the changes in bureaucracy will have on local schools I am hopeful that it will be minimal.”
Mr Constance said he hoped to meet the P&Cs in the New Year.