In Defence of Public Education in Australia and New Zealand

Australian government dismisses call to boost school funding

By Will Marshall, 3 March 2012

According to the Gonski report, Australia has one of the most inequitable education systems in the OECD.

Australia: NAPLAN “breaches” by schools almost double

By Erika Zimmer, 2 February 2012

The results point to the immense pressure on schools and teachers to achieve high scores under the Gillard government’s My School testing regime.

Australian government imposes new student union fee

By Zac Hambides, 12 November 2011

As well as an additional financial burden on students, the legislation reflects concerns in ruling circles about a developing political radicalisation among young people.

Australian university announces 70 redundancies

By our correspondents, 10 August 2011

The timing of the job cuts underlines the direct connection between the Gillard government’s “education revolution” and the enterprise agreements that the NTEU has imposed at universities during the past 18 months.

Union seeks to ram through pro-market deal at Australia’s Macquarie University

By the Socialist Equality Party (Australia), 27 July 2011

Like agreements struck by the NTEU at more than 30 universities nationally so far, its purpose is to facilitate the Gillard government’s radical pro-market restructuring of tertiary education.

Australian Greens embroiled in Tasmanian school closures debacle

By Mike Head, 18 July 2011

The Greens remain firmly committed to deep public spending cuts, despite the Labor-Green state government being forced by public outrage to postpone plans to shut down 20 schools by the end of the year.

Australia: What next in the struggle against NAPLAN?

By James Cogan, 10 May 2011

Now into its third year of operation, the MySchool website and NAPLAN are transforming the Australian school system.

Australia: Academics’ union prepares sell-out at Macquarie University

By our reporter, 30 March 2011

Staff members were told that NTEU bargaining representatives had been forced to make undisclosed trade-offs in order to settle an enterprise agreement.

Secret report foreshadows numerous public school closures and teaching job cuts

By James Cogan and SEP candidate for Marrickville, 24 March 2011

A confidential report commissioned by the New South Wales Labor government exposes plans for massive cuts to public education, regardless of which party takes office next week.

Australia: Gillard government steps up attack on public education, with NSW Labor’s support

By Carolyn Kennett and SEP candidate for Auburn, 17 March 2011

Launched early this month, the latest version of the My School web site is another step in the Gillard Labor government’s assault on public education.

Australia: SEP member exposes role of Greens and unions at Macquarie University rally

By our reporters, 11 January 2011

Socialist Equality Party member Carolyn Kennett explained the need for a political struggle against the Gillard government and for a socialist perspective to defend education at a stop work rally on January 5.

Australia: Union lifts work bans at Macquarie University

By our reporters, 24 December 2010

Union officials are seeking to contain the anger of university workers and prevent them from developing a political struggle in defence of public education against the Gillard government.

Australian Labor government “education revolution” leads to Macquarie University job cuts

By our reporters, 17 November 2010

In a move that flows directly from the Labor government’s new “education revolution” funding regime, Sydney’s Macquarie University has angered staff and students by announcing a 7 percent reduction in funds allocated to faculties for teaching undergraduate students in 2011.

Falling overseas enrolments compound funding crisis for Australian universities

By Zac Hambides, 28 October 2010

Less than three years after the Labor government came to office promising a market-based “education revolution,” universities have begun axing jobs and demanding higher student fees.

Socialist Equality Party (Australia) Public Meetings in Sydney

NAPLAN testing and My School: Rudd’s free market education agenda

25 May 2010

Teachers, parents, students—and all those concerned about the fate of public education—are invited to attend public meetings being convened by the Socialist Equality Party to discuss the Rudd Labor government’s historic assault on public education.

New Zealand universities move to cut admissions

By Tom Peters, 24 May 2010

Thousands of would-be students will be turned away next semester, after announcements this month that four New Zealand universities will drastically restrict admissions.

An exchange on NAPLAN and the role of Socialist Alliance

By Laura Tiernan, 20 May 2010

Socialist Alliance typifies the role of all the ex-radical groups. Despite occasional “anti-capitalist” rhetoric, they are utterly hostile to any independent struggle by working people against the ALP and trade unions.

Australian teacher unions call off NAPLAN boycott

By Laura Tiernan, 7 May 2010

The Australian Education Union and its state affiliates yesterday called off a national boycott of standardised literacy and numeracy tests known as NAPLAN that was to be imposed next week.

SEP (Australia) public meeting resolution

6 May 2010

The following resolution was passed unanimously at SEP public meetings in Melbourne and Sydney on May 4 and 5, respectively. We urge teachers, parents and students to organise meetings to pass this resolution and contact the SEP to discuss how to take forward the fight to defend public education.

SEP public meetings oppose Australian government’s assault on public education

By our reporters, 6 May 2010

Concerned teachers, parents and students at SEP meetings in Melbourne and Sydney voted unanimously for a resolution to oppose the Rudd government’s My School web site and NAPLAN testing regime.

Socialist Equality Party (Australia) Public Meetings

NAPLAN testing and My School: Rudd’s free market education agenda

23 April 2010

In January this year, the Rudd government launched its My School web site, which ranks schools nationally, based on their performance in standardised literacy and numeracy tests (known as NAPLAN). The real purpose of My School is to unleash a divisive struggle between schools.

Australia: Academics’ union makes key concessions at University of Western Sydney

By Mike Head, 21 April 2010

Less than four months after academics voted by 66 percent to reject an enterprise agreement, the NTEU has negotiated a deal that delivers virtually all the measures sought by management.

Australian teachers’ union makes empty threat to boycott NAPLAN testing

By Laura Tiernan, 14 April 2010

The main purpose of the AEU boycott is to pressure Education Minister Julia Gillard to the negotiating table to discuss a revised version of Labor’s education measures.

Australia: Students boycott farcical NUS “Day of Action”

By James Cogan, 3 April 2010

Apart from a dozen or so NUS office holders, barely 30 students took part in a “rally” in Sydney and even fewer participated in Melbourne.

Australia: Teachers’ union pushes through TAFE sell-out

By our reporters, 12 March 2010

Despite angry opposition from TAFE teachers, the NSW Teachers Federation yesterday imposed the state Labor government’s demands for longer hours and lower overall pay rates.

Gillard’s National Press Club speech

Australia: Labor’s war on public education

By Laura Tiernan, 8 March 2010

Speaking at the National Press Club on February 24, Education Minister Julia Gillard unveiled a further wave of attacks by the Rudd government on public education.

Australia: TAFE teachers challenge Labor’s education reforms, defying strike ban

By our reporters, 12 February 2010

More than 3,000 Technical and Further Education (TAFE) teachers attended a stop-work meeting yesterday—the largest in more than a decade—at Sydney Town Hall.

Australian teachers condemn Labor’s My School web site

By our correspondents, 11 February 2010

The World Socialist Web Site interviews school teachers about the Rudd government’s My School web site, which publicly ranks government and private schools across the country.

Australia: Labor’s My School web site launches new attack on public education

By Erika Zimmer, 4 February 2010

The Rudd government’s new My School web site, publicly ranking schools according to standardised tests, will accelerate the shift toward a market-based, fee-paying model of education.

Australia: Union prepares sell-out of TAFE teachers struggle

By our reporters, 10 December 2009

NSW TAFE teachers are continuing to oppose a new teaching award handed down by the Industrial Relations Commission on October 15. But the NSW Teachers Federation is seeking a deal with newly-installed Premier Kristina Keneally that would preserve the central thrust of the IRC ruling.

Australia: Labor governments launch major assault on TAFE teachers

By Erika Zimmer, 4 December 2009

Technical and Further Education (TAFE) teachers in the state of New South Wales have been protesting a wave of attacks on their conditions that are being driven by the federal Labor government’s “education revolution”.

Australian academics’strike at UNSW: a few observations from the ISSE

By Mathew Benn, 19 September 2009

Academics and general staff at the University of New South Wales went on strike last Wednesday as part of the National Tertiary Education Union’s “National Day of Action”. Members of the International Students for Social Equality—which has a club on campus—visited the picket lines and spoke to strikers.

Australia: University staff strike for “day of action”

By our reporters, 17 September 2009

Members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) at 16 universities stopped work yesterday to fight increased workloads, a blow-out in class sizes, casualisation and other attacks on jobs and conditions.

Rudd’s Education Revolution “a disaster for universities”

By our reporters, 17 September 2009

Macquarie University’s National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) branch president Carolyn Kennett speaks with the World Socialist Web Site about the deepening assault on public tertiary education that sparked yesterday’s industrial action

Gillard’s “Teach for Australia”: a corporate-backed assault on teaching

By Katrina Morrison and Laura Tiernan, 14 September 2009

Teach for Australia will parachute unqualified teachers into disadvantaged government schools. Part of the Rudd government’s “education revolution”, the initiative is modelled on Teach for America and the UK’s Teach First.

Education deans oppose Teach for Australia

“Teachers need a depth of theoretical understanding”

By Laura Tiernan, 14 September 2009

Since the Rudd government’s Teach for Australia program was first publicly mooted at the start of 2008, it has been condemned by education deans at universities in Sydney and Melbourne.

Australia: International students protest lack of access to student concession cards

By Mathew Benn, 4 September 2009

Hundreds of international students protested in Sydney and Melbourne on Wednesday to demand access to the same student concession cards provided to domestic students.

Australia: NSW teachers union censors debate at mass meeting

By Laura Tiernan, 28 August 2009

Nearly 2,000 teachers packed the Rosehill Racecourse last night to oppose the publication of school league tables. But the New South Wales Teachers Federation worked to block any discussion, debate or struggle against the Rudd Labor government’s accelerating assault on education.

Defeat Labor’s pro-market “education revolution”!

For a national boycott of NAPLAN by teachers, parents and students!

28 August 2009

The Rudd Labor government’s “education revolution” constitutes a seismic shift, with every aspect of education, from early-childhood through to adult education, being subject to the full blast of market competition.

Australian teachers union calls for streamlined dismissals

By Erika Zimmer, 24 August 2009

The New South Wales Teachers Federation is openly calling for streamlined procedures to dismiss teachers deemed “poorly performing”.

Australia: Teachers Federation annual conference: a green light for Labor’s pro-market “education revolution”

By Erika Zimmer, 22 July 2009

Last week’s New South Wales Teachers’ Federation annual conference served to deflect widespread opposition among teachers to the Rudd government’s pro-market education reforms.

Labor government continues to starve Australian universities

By Carolyn Robinson, 9 July 2009

The Rudd government’s second budget will drive universities even further down the path of market-driven privatisation and commercialisation.

Australia: League tables and democratic rights—a reply to News Ltd

By Laura Tiernan, 8 July 2009

Behind the moral outcry is a definite political agenda. Murdoch’s columnists and lead-writers are helping the Rudd Labor government push through education reforms opposed by virtually the entire teaching profession.

Australia: “Quality” teaching and the Labor/union assault on public education

By Erika Zimmer, 12 June 2009

Last month the media reported a shift in the position of the New South Wales Teachers’ Federation (NSWTF) on performance pay for the state’s teachers. According to one commentator, it signalled “an end to their long-standing opposition to so-called performance pay.”

Australia: Rudd Labor’s NAPLAN school “league tables”

“NAPALM that kills learning”

By Will Marshall, 11 June 2009

The Rudd Labor government is pushing ahead with the publication of school reports that will pit schools against each other across the country, and which are the precursor to league tables. Results from the National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy will form part of every school’s ranking.

Indian student protests spread to Sydney: “We came here to study, not to fight”

By Laura Tiernan, 10 June 2009

Protests by Indian students studying in Australia that erupted in Melbourne on May 31 have spread to Sydney over recent days.

Australia: Northern Territory teachers resist Labor government’s attack on public education

By Katrina Morrison, 13 November 2008

After voting down a proposed industrial agreement negotiated between the government and the union last September, teachers are now threatening further industrial action. The standoff in the NT comes as teachers in several states are attempting to defend their wages, conditions, and the public education system as a whole.

Australia: The 2008 Victorian teachers’ dispute, Teachers Alliance and the Socialist Equality Party

By Patrick O’Connor and Will Marshall, 12 September 2008

The World Socialist Web Site is publishing an interview with Mary Merkenich, a leading member of the Teachers Alliance organisation, on the recent struggle waged by Victorian public school teachers for improved wages and conditions. A comment by Socialist Equality Party member and public school teacher Will Marshall follows.

Pay-for-performance reintroduced into Australian schools

By Will Marshall, 11 January 2001

An agreement struck between the Australian Education Union (AEU) and the Labor government in the state of Victoria reintroduces, after nearly 100 years, performance-based pay for teachers.

Australian Labor Party votes for Bill to boost wealthy private schools

By Erika Zimmer, 13 December 2000

Just before the federal parliament shut down for the year in the early hours of December 8, the Australian Labor Party voted with the Howard government to pass an education funding Bill that showers the most exclusive private schools with millions of dollars in additional funding.

Australian government pours funds into private schools at the direct expense of public schools

By Erika Zimmer, 19 July 2000

Despite a nation-wide increase of 8,300 pupils in the government school system this year, $27.5 million, or around 6 percent of the total, will be cut from federal government funding to public schools under the Howard government's Enrolment Benchmark Adjustment (EBA) scheme.

Lack of alternative leads New South Wales teachers to accept union deal

By Erika Zimmer, 19 June 2000

New South Wales public school and Technical and Further Education (TAFE) teachers voted earlier this month to accept an award agreement between the union and the state Labor government, ending almost eight months of bitter industrial disputation.


Teachers' union agrees to sellout deal with NSW Labor government

By Erika Zimmer, 30 May 2000

After almost a year of conflict between New South Wales teachers and the Carr state government over a new industrial award, the teachers' union executive has agreed to a settlement containing the government's main demands for “flexible” working conditions.

Demoted Australian principal speaks out:

"The education department is pursuing this with the zealotry of the Spanish Inquisition"

By Erika Zimmer, 12 May 2000

Jim Carey, the principal of Dubbo High School, west of Sydney, was demoted, suspended and removed from the school two months ago on the grounds that he was a “danger to students.” Carey is one of more than a thousand New South Wales teachers who have been investigated by the state Labor government's Child Protection Investigation Unit (CPIU) (formerly the Case Management Unit) established in 1996 on the pretext of protecting students from pedophiles.


Bracks government keeps thousands of teachers on short-term contracts

By Margaret Rees, 24 April 2000

Early in March, Victoria's Education Minister Mary Delahunty announced that the Bracks Labor government, elected late last year, would virtually eliminate contract teaching in the state's government schools. Permanent employment would become the standard, she declared. But in a revealing speech in parliament on April 5, Delahunty disclosed what the government means by permanent employment.


Teachers vote to strike but union prepares for a deal

By Erika Zimmer, 21 April 2000

New South Wales state school teachers voted overwhelmingly last Friday to reject the Carr Labor government's latest award offer, but the government is not backing away from any of its sweeping demands and the teachers' union is working to deliver its key requirements.


Union leaders prepare to betray teachers' fight against new award

By Erika Zimmer, 13 April 2000

After calling off strike action and entering into eight-week-long talks with the Carr state Labor government over a new award for New South Wales teachers, the NSW Teachers Federation is preparing to push through a settlement that would implement many of the key provisions originally demanded by the government.


Students, teachers and residents protest against suspension of high school principal

By Erika Zimmer, 27 March 2000

Students, parents and residents in Dubbo, a New South Wales regional centre, have held strikes and rallies to oppose the demotion and suspension of Dubbo High School principal Jim Carey. Earlier this month the Education Department suspended Carey, just before he was due to appeal against charges laid against him by the Carr state government's Child Protection Investigation Unit (CPIU).

Australia: The NSW teachers' dispute

Parents, teachers and principals deepen their opposition to education cutbacks

By Erika Zimmer, 9 March 2000

Since New South Wales (NSW) teacher union leaders called off strike action two weeks ago and entered into discussions with the state Labor government over a new teachers' award, indications of parent and teacher opposition to education cutbacks have begun to emerge outside the framework of the official negotiations.

NSW government wants to "eliminate restrictions"

Australian teachers continue their fight against new award

By Erika Zimmer, 5 February 2000

On Thursday New South Wales (NSW) public school and Technical and Further Education (TAFE) teachers voted overwhelmingly for further strike action in their dispute with the Carr state Labor government, now in its fourth month. While the media is portraying the dispute as a campaign for higher salaries, the real issue is the government's attempt to impose a new award, which would destroy fundamental working conditions.

"I wish I had done what she did"

Interviews with Australian teachers about Geraldine Rawson's Supreme Court challenge

By Susan Allan, 1 February 2000

During the past decade the public education system in Australia has been radically transformed. The most obvious changes have been cuts to the government education budget, the dismantling and closure of schools, the elimination of teaching staff and the imposition of new curricula compatible with the requirements of business. What was once taken for granted—a government-funded free education system, accessible to all—has been progressively undermined.

Australia: Victorian Labor government reneges on its education promises

By Will Marshall, 20 January 2000

After only three months in office the recently elected Bracks Labor government in the Australian state of Victoria is already reneging on its promises to ameliorate the crisis in the state's public education system.

Teachers and students fight to save a technical college in Sydney

By Erika Zimmer, 18 January 2000

Teachers, students and local supporters are into their fourth week of picketing to protest the closure of Seaforth Technical and Further Education (TAFE) College, in Sydney's northern suburbs. The institution was officially shut down on December 17, as a direct consequence of the New South Wales Labor government's funding cuts to TAFE, announced in the June 1999 budget.

Primary school principal commits suicide in Australian country town

By Erika Zimmer, 12 January 2000

Just weeks before the end of the school year, Doug Godwin, a 50-year-old father of four and the principal of a local primary school, was found hanged at his home in the small rural town of Moruya, several hundred kilometres south of Sydney.

An interview with victimised Australian teacher

"Freedom of speech must be defended"

By Sue Phillips, 24 December 1999

Sacked Australian secondary school teacher Geraldine Rawson won a partial victory in the Victorian Supreme Court earlier this month when she challenged gagging provisions promulgated in 1993 by the previous state Liberal government. The provisions, contained in Teaching Service Order 140, were used to silence and intimidate public school teachers while the most far-reaching attacks to public education were carried out, including the destruction of 9,500 teaching jobs and 400 schools. Rawson was sacked in 1998 after being charged under the provisions in 1996 and enduring a two-year Complaints Process. She was one of hundreds of teachers who were victimised and then driven out of the public school system.

Chilean teachers send message of support to victimised Australian teacher

24 December 1999

The following two resolutions from Chile were sent to the World Socialist Web Site in support of the stand taken by sacked Australian school teacher Geraldine Rawson. The resolutions were sent on behalf of the Liceo de Aplicacion, a public high school in Santiago Chile and by the union president of the Regional Metropolitan College of Teachers of Chile, the representative of several thousand teachers in the metropolitan region of Santiago.

Supreme Court declares government's gag clause invalid

Sacked Australian teacher wins significant victory

By Linda Tenenbaum, 15 December 1999

Sacked public high school teacher Geraldine Rawson has won a political victory with significant implications for hundreds of other teachers hounded out of Victoria's schools by the former Kennett Liberal government. The Victorian Supreme Court has upheld part of Rawson's challenge to Teaching Service Order 140 (TSO 140), promulgated by the Kennett government in 1993. Last Thursday, Justice Philip Mandie ruled that Clause 3.7 of TSO 140, was ultra vires (beyond the power of) the Teaching Services Act, and thus invalid.

Australian state government faces demand for teacher's reinstatement

Test case to be held in Supreme Court

26 November 1999

High school teacher Geraldine Rawson was victimised and sacked by the Education Department in the Australian state of Victoria last year under legal provisions that denied her the right to a fair hearing or to publicly expose her victimisation.