Monday, May 21, 2007


Two pieces of information reveal the self-serving hypocrisy of our elected leaders in South Australia.

Today’s capitalist press has revealed that the State’s Labor Party Government has increased the number of minders appointed to Ministerial offices by 44 per cent over five years. Nearly 100 extra staff have been appointed to work in the personal offices of Ministers, most as advisers and media monitors.

That is, they provide the spin that enables Ministers to look good. They exist to protect Ministerial butt.

Their role is to serve the political needs of Ministers, as distinct from public servants who work in Government Departments and who are meant to be “above politics” and of service to the Government of the day, regardless of which party constitutes that Government.

So we have an expense growth of perhaps $25 million on additional party political salaries over four years paid, not by the Party, but by the taxpayer.

Compare this with the same Government’s commitment to quality public education.

So-called “savings measures” required from the Education Department, called for in the last State Budget, are now being identified by an Education Efficiency and Effectiveness (EEE) Group whose only role is to decide whether to cut off an arm or a leg.

They have been told by Education Department officials of a number of measures to cut Department costs by transferring costs to schools.

South Australian schools are now “locally managed” with a “global budget” that includes staff salaries. Out of that global budget is now to come a 1% levy on the salaries component to cover staff workers compensation payments.

Note that schools are not the employers of their teaching and support staff. The Department remains the central employing authority and has until now accepted responsibility for workers compensation (WorkCover) claims.

But now, claims costs will be attributed to the sites where the injury occurred. Sites will pay for the first four weeks of lost time wherever there is any new accepted claim but will not be provided with additional temporary relieving teachers to cover the absence of the injured staff member.

School Governing Councils, the majority of whom are parent volunteers, will be responsible for the WorkCover levy and must register separately with WorkCover. They will be responsible for paying injured workers their salaries as required by WorkCover.

This should be a matter for great concern on the part of any parent who has a child in a Government school in South Australia.

It follows closely on the heels of other Government cuts, for example to the small schools grant, and the proposed axing of swimming and instrumental music programs.

Parents of children in Government schools in SA should ring their child’s principal, ask how much the transfer of WorkCover responsibility to their school is likely to cost, both financially and in terms of workload, and then write to their local Member of parliament to express their concerns.

As for the Principals, if they have any guts and any sense at all, they will work through their respective Associations and alongside the Australian Education Union and get out into the streets and onto the steps of Parliament House and tell the Department to do its job, and let them get on with theirs.

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