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Issue #1634      April 9, 2014

Rally to save public education

On April 1 more than 10,000 teachers, students, parents and fellow union and community activists gathered at Langley Park on the Perth foreshore to protest the Liberal government’s failure to adequately resource and fund public education in Western Australia.

Liberal Party poster of Clive Palmer suggesting he is in it for himself rather than WA.

Premier Colin Barnett could not have been oblivious to the strength and resolve of the teachers union nor of the other unions involved in the campaign who had members working in the public education system. These included the Community and Public Sector Union, Civil Service Association and United Voice; the State School Teachers’ Union had in September 2013 held a similar sized rally and warned of similar industrial action.

Representatives of the Greens and the Australian Labor Party were also flying their respective banners as were the Maritime Union of Australia, Australian Services Union and Unions WA with its secretary Meredith Hammat. The SSTU leaders and Unions WA were at the front of the march to Parliament House in a colourful and festive atmosphere through the city along St Georges Terrace.

In lead-up to the teachers’ day of action 8,600 teachers pre-registered their intention not to attend work for the day.

There were also 17 regional rallies from Kununurra in the state’s north to Esperance on the south coast.

The Barnett government has started taking the axe to some areas of education this year including Educational Assistants for a number of special needs areas such as mental health and Indigenous students.

However, the funding and resourcing of education is also a federal issue and people had also come to vent their anger at the Abbott government as it has reduced funding to education through their undermining of the Gonski funding of the previous ALP government.

WA Senate rerun

The rally was timed to coincide with the Senate rerun election. Preliminary results indicate a decrease in votes for the ALP and the Liberals of about 5% for each and an increase of 6% for the Greens and 8% for the Palmer United Party. Of the six seats two were won by the Liberals, one seat for the ALP, and one seat each for the Greens and the PUP.

The result is almost a repeat of the initial result from September 2013, for the six senate vacancies up for re-election, with the difference being a more emphatic repudiation of the politics of the status quo.

According to the Australian Electoral Commission the final result of the voting is unlikely to be known for several weeks. Results so far:

  • Labor Party – 21.76%
  • Liberal Party – 33.71%
  • Greens – 15.88%
  • Palmer United Party – 12.49%

An analysis will follow in a coming issue of the Guardian.

Next article – Belgrade calls for a world of equals

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