More than 20,000 people protest over WA education cuts

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More than 20,000 people attended stop work meetings around the state to protest over the Barnett Government’s education cuts.

More than 15,000 teachers, Principals, Education Assistants, school support staff, parents and children flooded into Gloucester Park in Perth to send a message to the government that they wanted the cuts reversed.

The crowd was addressed by State School Teachers’ Union President Anne Gisborne, United Voice Secretary Carolyn Smith, CPSU/CSA Assistant Secretary Rikki Hendon and Opposition leader Mark McGowan.

Education Minister Peter Collier was invited to speak at the meeting, but declined due to ‘parliamentary commitments’.

“Colin Barnett and Peter Collier continue to hide from the truth, but the community is determined; we’re not going away,” said Ms Smith.

More than 5,000 people attended meetings in regional areas, which included 2,000 in Bunbury, 500 in Albany, 520 in Pinjarra and 200 in Port Hedland.

Ms Hendon said the huge turnouts reflected the anger of the community over the government’s attack on public schools.

“The Barnett Government has made the mistake of attacking something dear to the hearts of Western Australian people.

“Communities all over the state are standing up and expressing their support for the campaign to overturn these cuts and this will only grow.”

The meetings passed five resolutions, including condemning the Premier and Education Minister for continuing to mislead the community over budget cuts, and vowing to continue lobbying the government.

Ms Gisborne expressed anger at Treasurer Troy Buswell’s suggestion that the community’s demands would test the government’s ‘political will’ in the face of losing its Triple-A credit rating.

“The children in this state should not have to pay for the government’s mismanagement of its budget,” she said.

The unions warned the government that the stop work meeting was only the start of their campaign if it didn’t agree to reverse the cuts.

“This campaign will keep running. It will keep growing. This government has to learn that it can’t build stadiums at the expense of our children’s education,” said Ms Smith.

Ms Gisborne will meet with Mr Barnett and Mr Collier on Monday to discuss the impact of the cuts.