Teachers, public servants rally
By Sean Healy
BRISBANE — Teachers and public servants rallied outside Parliament House here on Thursday, July 15, against savage cuts to public spending by the Goss Labor government. The rally, called by the Queensland Teachers Union, was supported by a range of trade unions, including the State Public Service Federation, Queensland Nurses' Union and the Australian Railways Union.
The cuts to state funding of $109 million follow federal cuts of $115 million announced at the Premiers' Conference. They will affect schools, hospitals and rail services in particular.
In the education sector, 500-600 jobs will be cut, leading to increasing class sizes. Rural areas will again be particularly hard hit. In-house teacher training will also be cut.
Queensland Teachers' Union president Mary Kelly, addressing the rally, drew a parallel between this round of cuts and savage cuts to education inflicted by the Bjelke-Petersen government in 1987. The difference, she noted, was that then Goss, as opposition leader, condemned the cuts; now he was implementing them.
Kelly also drew an analogy between Goss' recent actions and those of Premier Jeff Kennett in Victoria. "There is a great deal of electoral cowardice in these cuts. Where are the cuts to the wealthy private schools? It's the schools where working class students go, where rural students go that will suffer."
The joint general secretary of the State Public Service Federation, Laurie Gillespie, said, "This government has ratted on the public interest, has ratted on the industrial arm of the labour movement, has ratted on the very people that put it into power".
He added, "This is the embryo of a long and escalating campaign that this government will never