Consideration Of Urgent Motions
Flood Plain Management
Mr AMERY (Mount Druitt—Minister for Agriculture, and Minister for Land and Water Conservation) [3.30 p.m.]: I ask the House to give priority to my motion dealing with funding formulas from the State, Federal and local governments in relation to flood plain management. In the past three or four days members of this House have discussed this matter in the corridors of the Parliament on a number of occasions. In light of the concerns of a number of councils, particularly regional councils and the Wollongong City Council, which has been lobbying its members, this matter should receive priority over a competing motion that is basically a continuation of the debate about the Department of Education and Training and the teachers salary dispute. My motion is far more topical and is in need of airing. Answers need to be given to many regional councils, to explain to them and the local community the funding formulas for flood plain management schemes. I ask the House to give my motion priority.
Mrs CHIKAROVSKI (Lane Cove—Leader of the Opposition) [3.31 p.m.]: I ask the House to give my motion urgent priority for one simple reason: today we are talking about the education of our children. And if there is one thing that is important to every parent and every child, in fact to every member of the community, it is to ensure that our children have a decent education. At the moment this State is in a state of paralysis. The Minister for Education and Training is incapable of resolving the teachers dispute. The Premier, the so-called "education Premier", refuses to get involved in the most important industrial dispute that has confronted this State in many a year. The Premier has enough time to talk about colour schemes at Pyrmont, but he has no time to sit down and resolve the education dispute, which is disrupting the lives of the parents, the students and the teachers involved.
The Premier should forget the German lessons. He should sit down and talk to the Teachers Federation to resolve the education dispute. Students going back to school next term will not know whether their teachers will be in the classrooms. Students in year 12 do not know whether their teachers will be in the classrooms. They do not know whether they will be able to properly complete their studies for the higher school certificate [HSC]. It is not only an absolute shame, but it is also distressing and traumatising for the year 12 students who do not know whether they will be able to complete their studies. The Government is keen to tell anyone who will listen how important the HSC is and how important it is for students to obtain their HSC. The Coalition agrees with the Government on that point. The Government must get the teachers back into their classrooms. The only way that will be done is if the Premier of this State shows some real leadership.
The Premier must focus on the basic services of New South Wales. He is so busy worrying about global warming and overpopulation that he has forgotten that, as the Premier of New South Wales, he is required to deliver to the people of this State, the people who elected him to show some leadership, to show some strength and to resolve the difficult issues. The most difficult issue in this State at the moment is the teachers dispute. We want the Premier to sit down with the federation, not do what his Minister has done. For the past 287 days the Minister for Education and Training has refused to talk to the federation. We do not want the Premier to do what his Minister for Education and Training has done: call them feral. That description was really conducive to negotiation! The Minister called them feral, and said that they were not people with whom he wanted to sit down and negotiate.
The Minister for Education and Training is clearly incompetent. He cannot resolve this dispute. He should be taken out of the negotiations. He stood in the House today and told us how many hours he sat and talked with them. Obviously, he cannot settle the dispute. He is supposed to have spent a great deal of time with them, but the dispute is still unresolved. It is time for the Minister for Education and Training to be given the boot. We should kick him out, walk him out of the joint and let the Premier step in. The Premier keeps telling us that he wants to be known as the education Premier. If he believes that education is important he should do something about it.
He should not simply sit in Governor Macquarie Tower thinking about the colour schemes in Pyrmont and other esoteric issues. He should sit down and resolve an issue that is distressing students, upsetting parents and upsetting the community generally. People in this State genuinely want to believe that we have an education system of which we can be proud. But at the moment they have no confidence in the education system because the Government is incompetent and incapable of resolving this issue. If the Premier wants to be known as the education Premier, if he wants to be able to stand up and say that he has a proud record on education, he must sort out this dispute.
He must not leave our students in limbo, particularly the year 12 students who do not know whether they are going to be able to complete the HSC. Students in year 11 do not have textbooks, yet we are at the end of the first term. The Premier must sit down and resolve the issue, and ensure that New South Wales has an education system of which we can all be proud. The Premier claims to be the leader, he claims to be the person in this State to whom we should look for leadership. The Premier should show some of that leadership and do something about this dispute. He should sit down with the teachers and sort it out. He has two weeks before the beginning of next term to sort out this issue and get it off the agenda.
Question—That the motion for urgent consideration of the honourable member for Mount Druitt be proceeded with—put.
The House divided.
Mrs Lo Po'
Mr E. T. Page
Mr W. D. Smith
Mr D. L. Page
Mr J. H. Turner
Mr R. W. Turner
Mr R. H. L. Smith
Question resolved in the affirmative.