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Tuesday, 3 March 1998
Page: 249

Mr HATTON (10:50 PM) —On 1 July 1998, 500 Adult Migrant English Service teachers will lose their jobs and 11 Adult Migrant English Service centres will be handed over to a private consortium, Australian Centre for Languages. In July those AMES teachers much vacate premises at Auburn, Bankstown, Blacktown, Cabramatta, Campbelltown, Campsie, Fairfield, Liverpool, Parramatta, Rockdale and Wollongong and a new group of privately employed teachers and administrators will walk in and take over. They will take over federally leased premises which are kitted out by the state government.

Presumably they will take over the use of the reporting system, which has been built by the federal government at a cost of millions of dollars, called ARMS, the AMEP Management and Reporting System, which provides absolutely timely information on the language progress of all the students in those programs. In fact, that system—built at such cost by the federal government and involving those 500 AMES teachers trained extensively in the efficient use of it—will probably be used by the winning tenderers. Whether or not there is a cost to that we hope to find out either from the minister at the table (Dr Kemp) or the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (Mr Ruddock). That system provides extensive and systematic training of the clerical and management staff of the ARMS reporting system, ensures that data is processed in a timely and efficient manner and gives long-term experience and knowledge of the reporting requirements of the ARMS system to those who have been trained in it and an accurate and speedy assessment of client eligibility.

Those millions of dollars spent by the federal government were spent supporting the 500 AMES teachers and the students they were bringing to an understanding of the English language, students who had come primarily from overseas and needed 510 hours of intensive English teaching to bring them into this country and into a position where they could attempt to get jobs in the work force, function fully and be productive. Yet, after the tendering process introduced by this government, the public education provided by those 500 teachers will cease on 1 July.

The teachers association wrote to the local paper the Bankstown Torch and made these points: firstly, that they would be out of their jobs on 1 July; and secondly, that this was a result of the Commonwealth government's decision to grant five regional tenders to a private consortium with no experience in the delivery of adult migrant education programs. Currently the teachers federation is mounting a campaign to reverse the Commonwealth's tendering decision resulting in the closure of 11 offices throughout New South Wales.

AMES has been in Bankstown for 26 years, providing a highly professional service and establishing strong links to the community and ethnic organisations. The AMEP in the Bankstown-Canterbury area will now be delivered by a private consortium whose main concern is profits for its shareholders. Due to the actions of the Howard government, over 500 teachers in AMES will lose their jobs, and migrants in the Bankstown area will be affected.

This, of course, is not the only tendering out, contracting out or closing down that the Bankstown area and my electorate of Blaxland has suffered. Here we have yet another example of a public utility where people—500 teachers who are experienced, trained, qualified and able, and have a background of providing effective education to those people in their care—have been contracted out of their jobs. All of that vast experience, all of that training and all of that ability will be thrown out the door so that a new private consortium can take their place; a private consortium without the experience, without the capability, without the capacity and without the training in the specific needs and demands of English as a second language teaching and, in particular, in the teaching of new arrivals. This is yet another demonstration that ideology can come before people and that ideology can come before education. (Time expired)