NSW govt to cut $1.7b from education
THE New South Wales Government remains committed to cutting $1.7 billion from education over the next four years despite a poll showing seven in 10 people were opposed to the move.
A survey commissioned by the NSW Teachers' Federation and carried out by Auspoll, showed just 14% of the 1002 people polled were in favour of the cuts, announced two weeks ago by Education Minister Adrian Piccoli, while more than 70% opposed.
In other results, 70% of people thought the cuts would have a negative impact on children in schools; 82% said they believed it was either important or very important to increase funding for public schools, and only 28% said they would have voted for Mr O'Farrell if they had known he would take the razor to education.
The government plans to slash 1800 jobs from education over the next four years, as well as hiking TAFE fees by 9.5% next year.
Public education was not the only target of the savings measured announced on September 11, with private schools to have their funding capped at 2013-14 levels for four years to achieve a saving of $116 million.
In responding to the results of the survey Mr Piccoli said the O'Farrell government had been left with no choice but to find savings in education, including $201 million in 2012-13 alone.
"I know these are tough decisions, but I would not have made them had they not been absolutely necessary," he said.
"I'm the minister for all schools, so I've taken the decision that the savings measures to fix our budget should be spread across all funding programs and grants across the Education portfolio.
"There has to be a shared impact of these savings measures, and I have asked the director-general of the Department of Education and Communities to ensure that any potential impacts on Education are minimised.
"These changes include reducing back office staff, working more efficiently within reduced operating budgets, reducing the amount of rent, less advertising, using fewer consultants, adjusting non-government school sector funding and increasing revenue from fees and services."
Under the proposed changes, 600 jobs will go over the next four years in a restructure of state and regional education offices.
The Education Department was "close to finalising the realignment of the schools portfolio in state office", a spokesman said.
"Discussions have started on developing a new model to replace the state's 10 education regions," he said.
A detailed proposal for the new model will be released for consultation in late October, although the exact number of positions involved will not be known until the model is finalised towards the end of the year, the spokesman said.
But Australian Education Union president Angelo Gavrielatos said the results of the survey should serve as a warning to all political leaders.
He also called on the Federal Government to implement the recommendations of the Gonski review, which found an additional $5 billion per year was needed in education funding.