2016 Election day wrap-up

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Lachlan at Burwood Girls – a smiling face in a sea of blue

election day

Luke Foley and Craig Laundy try to recruit a new member

newington election day

Mauricio and Chris at Newington

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On the job at Chalmers Street PS

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Long queues at Mortlake PS were the order of the day

As of 15 July 2016
Eight days after the big day, Bill Shorten conceded defeat and Malcolm Turnbull was confirmed as continuing in his role as Prime Minister, having reached the necessary 76 seat majority to form government, and with support from three independents to govern. 

This election has been remarkable in a number of aspects: it was the first double dissolution of Parliament since 1987 and it was one of the longest election campaigns on record, officially running for nearly 8 weeks after its announcement on 9 May 2016. This election has also seen cliff-hanging results in at least 5 seats which has meant that even after 10 days, the final seat count of the election is not yet final and relies on the counting of absentee and postal votes.

It did not bring Mr Turnbull the glorious victory that he might have hoped and the issue that triggered the DD, the establishment of the Australian Building & Construction Commission, barely got a mention by either of the big parties in the campaign.

Although nationally there was a swing towards the Greens of 1.3% with a first preference vote of 9.98%, we did not clinch our most likely inner-city seats such as Grayndler in Sydney and Batman in Melbourne.

Greens candidate Alex Bhathal in Batman received a 9.6% swing but was outbid at the last moment by Labor. In Grayndler, Labor candidate Antony Albanese preferenced the Liberals ahead of Greens candidate Jim Casey, despite his false claims that the Greens would preference the Liberals, apparently calculated to destabilise voter confidence in the Greens.

In Reid, sitting member Craig Laundy recorded a 0.9% loss in primary votes but retained a comfortable 4.7% majority including preferences, while Labor candidate, Angelo Tsirekas, the former Canada Bay Council mayor, also recorded a slight swing against him. Greens candidate, Alice Mantel increased the Greens first preference vote to 7.9% and recorded a 0.9% increase. The Christian Democrat Party and Family First recorded 6.2% of the overall vote, representing a 4.8% increase in the religious vote.

The full outcome of Senate voting is not yet known but Lee Rhiannon has been returned as Greens Senator for NSW and the Greens have certainly lost one of two senators in South Australia, with other Greens senators still at risk in Western Australia and Tasmania. It can also be expected that the representation of smaller parties such as the Xenophon party and Pauline Hanson’s party can expect to increase their share of seats and cause on-going disruption to an over-confident Coalition government.

Greens leader Richard di Natale commented in his National Press Club speech that “there have been some policy differences at the margins but overall there’s been a lack of courage, imagination and vision” in the election campaign. In that speech, Richard outlined key Greens policies and emphasised that we are in politics for the long haul. He concluded his speech saying,

Elections are about making choices. The choices we make reflect our values and aspirations. For those who choose for their precious places to be protected, for a smart economy based on education and innovation, for women to be safe to thrive and succeed in their chosen careers, for younger people to get a fair go in the housing market, for children and future generations, for a just settlement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, for poverty alleviated not entrenched in our society, for equal access to first class education, health and social services, and for a vibrant, prosperous and creative Australia — your choice is the Greens.

Thank you to all the members and supporters who contributed their time and energy to our campaign – we could not do it without you.
Alice Mantel

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NEWCASTLE HERALD 15/9/15 – TAFE WARNING: SALE WILL “ROB REGION”

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THE full and partial sale of Hunter TAFE campuses will raise more than $6million for the state government but potentially rob the region of a prosperous economic future, according to Greens MP John Kaye.

‘‘There’s no question theHunter has taken a fairly savage blow,’’ Dr Kaye said.‘‘For more than a century the state has provided young people, working class people and people with disadvantaged  backgrounds with a ladder to climb into employment and to get skills.‘‘The Baird government is now busy breaking that ladder.’

Mr Kaye said the leaked four-page cabinet document that named 27 TAFE sites across the state to be sold for a total of $62.97million earmarked four Hunter campuses to be fully or partially sold for $6.47million.

This includes the sale of the Scone campus for $1.17million, which will move primary industries training to the Kurri Kurri campus.
The western side of the Muswellbrook campus will be sold or ‘‘repurposed’’ in collaboration with Muswellbrook Shire Council for $1.48million.The western side of the Belmont campus will be sold for $2.96million, which will require courses to be delivered either in other campuses or to a limited extent in nearby leased facilities.Vacant land at the Glendale campus will be sold for $860,000.

Dr Kaye said the proposed closures would reduce the access of a whole generation of Hunter residents to education and training, particularly if they did not drive or have access to public transport to travel to another campus.

He said many of the students who attended TAFE needed the support of a face to face teacher and physical classroom and would struggle with courses being moved online.

‘‘It’s fine for people who have experience in learning and who have language, literacy and numeracy skills, but very bad for people who struggle with the use of computers and who will be isolated without access to teachers,’’ he said.

‘‘Many young people will have the chance of employment, the chance of building a life for themselves taken away because the Baird government wants to cut its investment in TAFE.

‘‘The Hunter community is being robbed of its economic future and pathway to employment and quality of life in return for more than $6million being ripped out by the government.’’

Dr Kaye said the Hunter faced employment challenges and needed tools to continue building the skills of its workforce. ‘‘Investment in public education produces a big return to the community and to government, and not just economically, but socially, too,’’ he said.

The leaked document said TAFE NSW required a $54.5million increase in capital spending this year to fund $32million for new projects.

NEW TRAINERS ROLE MOOTED

A PROPOSAL to replace TAFE teachers with trainers will be discussed when the NSW Teachers Federation meets with the state government on Thursday September 17 to negotiate a new enterprise agreement.

The state government has given teachers a document that reads ‘‘To continue to deliver quality training, TAFE NSW needs a modern educational workforce model that is responsive to the needs of our learners, who want training delivered anytime and anywhere, in a way that works for them.’’

It proposes adding a new role of trainer to the agreement, to ‘‘help us win new business’’.

It said a trainer’s responsibilities would include delivering training and conducting assessment using pre-designed materials, customising pre-designed delivery and assessment to a learner cohort, support compliance and liaising with industry on training needs.

NSW Teachers Federation President Maurie Mulheron said his members were concerned teachers would be replaced over time with unqualified trainers, who would be paid at what he estimated would be half the teacher rate.

‘‘Over time teachers will move to a smaller role at TAFE and be more supervisors working in the background, developing a curriculum to be delivered by an unqualified person,’’ he said.

‘‘The stability and assurance that comes with knowing your teacher is an expert in their field and on the cutting edge will be gone.

‘‘People graduating won’t be able to have the same confidence [in their qualifications] that TAFE was known for.’’

The agreement also includes increasing annual teaching hours from 720 to 820 and annual teaching weeks from 36 to 41, eliminating the five hours a week offsite ‘administrative arrangements’ and eliminating paid related duties for part time causal teachers.

The state government has proposed a 2.5 per cent per annum pay increase each year for two years.


First published in The Newcastle Herald on 15 September 2015.

 

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APPRENTICES: EXPLOITED, UNDERPAID AND DISAPPEARING

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Low apprenticeship and traineeship completion rates, declining enrolments and rising shortages of key skills are warning signs that something is going badly wrong in a key sector of the state’s education provision.

Department figures show there are 123,481 apprentices and trainees in NSW.  Apprenticeships usually last between three and four years. Drop-out rates are high, with just over half of those who enrol completing. Enrolment rates continue to fall.

As part of their campaign for the rights of young people in education, the Young Greens are working with my office to highlight the plight of apprentices. We jointly held a forum in Ashfield on 11 June, addressed by Mark Burgess from the Electrical Trades Union, Rebel Hanlon from the CFMEU Construction Division, Phil Chadwick from the NSW Teachers Federation and Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon.

Forum speakers highlighted the challenges facing the apprentices.

  • Barriers to entry: At a time of high youth unemployment, participation is falling. The number of people starting an apprenticeship in Australia fell by 21.9% from 2013 to 2014. Finding an employer, accessing a TAFE college and purchasing the tools and equipment needed for the trade are turning too many young people away.
  • Fewer employers taking on apprentices: There has been a sustained decline in the number of apprenticeships offered. Privatisation of the state’s electricity grid is likely to exacerbate the long term trend.
  • TAFE offers less assistance: The Baird government’s Smart and Skilled competitive training market has dumped TAFE into competition with low-cost, low-quality private providers. TAFE has responded with larger classes, cuts to teacher contact hours and increased inappropriate use of on-line learning. Pre-apprentice courses and learning support have become much harder to find. Young people with diverse learning styles are increasingly struggling to successfully complete their course work.
  • Federal assistance has cut: Grants to help apprentices purchase the tools and equipment they need (‘Tools for Your Trade’) have been replaced by the Abbott government with an income-contingent (HECS) loan for $20,000 (‘Trade Support Loans’). Many students cannot afford their tools and are turned away by the prospect of starting their working lives with a substantial debt.
  • Unliveable pay and conditions: Despite pay increases in 2013, many apprenticeship rates are below those for unskilled employment.

While apprentices receive one day a week release from work to attend TAFE, some employer groups are seeking to revert to night school or to force apprentices to spend two years studying full-time without wages before they receive on-the-job paid work and training.

Many employers prefer to employ overseas workers on 457 visas than train apprentices.

As NSW faces both increased expenditure on infrastructure and a growing issue of youth unemployment, government purchasing should focus on demanding contractors take on apprentices and support them throughout their training.

For more information: John Kaye 0407 195 455

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