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People that live in glass houses

By 2353NM

You may have seen Federal MP Andrew Laming’s comment in the media recently suggesting that parents send their children back to school, regardless of the recommendations of the various Education Departments around Australia. The ABC’s version of the story is here.

“Essential workers are being second-guessed, cajoled and in some cases bullied by principals who are interrogating other parents, sometimes talking to children, to establish what hours families are working,” Mr Laming said.

“This is completely unacceptable.”

He said parents facing that sort of pushback should call the police to ensure their children received an education.

This certainly isn’t Laming’s first attack on teachers. Here’s one from May 2018:

Mr Laming said teachers would have a stronger negotiating position if they “regularised” their working week to 38 hours and their holidays to four weeks per year, like most other workers, reported Fairfax

“Teaching needs to operate like other jobs, with the same hours, days and weeks as the rest of the economy, rather than cluttered school hours where there it is little beyond the face-to-face time,” he said.

They shouldn’t work from home unless they are paid to do so, he said. But critics have said the MP has no idea about the realities of the working life of a schoolteacher.

Which just goes to show who really inhabits the ‘Canberra bubble’. It isn’t the school teachers who spend considerable time when not in the classroom doing professional development, marking exams, attending parent teacher interviews, extracurricular activities, school camps and the multitude of other things that teachers are expected to attend such as school fund raisers, school discos and formals without payment.

Laming is a member of the LNP and, like Home Affairs Minister Dutton, represents areas that are considered to be outer suburbs and adjacent rural/residential areas around Brisbane. Laming represents Bowman on the south east of Brisbane; Dutton represents Dickson on the northside. Dutton, who for some reason demanded to be given information the Queensland Government used to justify a partial school closure during April and May (he might have a reason if his portfolio was Education), leads us to the crux of the matter:

“I think it’s all about the Teachers’ Union playing the hand, trying to leverage some industrial relations outcome. They’ll try and squeeze some concession out of the State Government.”

For the record, the same report advises

[Queensland Teachers Union President Kevin] Bates said the union had concerns about the safety of staff and students but had no formal position, and had not put any case to the State Government on when all students should return to school.

If we’ve found out nothing else in the current pandemic, it is who our ‘essential workers’ are. Compare and contrast cancelling Parliament with the public servants who burnt the midnight oil to get the ‘JobKeeper’ and ‘JobSeeker’ packages together as well as contact tracers locating close contacts of those suffering COVID19, the people driving the delivery trucks and the people stacking the shelves in supermarkets, the people who are keeping the power grid and water supplies working and all those keeping the wheels of society operational as far as possible. And lets also include teachers who have been forced to completely redesign the way they work while delivering relevant and appropriate material to their students over the past couple of months. On the surface, each federal politician was told by their boss to go home and look busy until August, while keeping their $200,000 plus per annum salary, plus allowances – no JobKeeper for MP’s.

It’s very easy to make similar comments to Laming’s about the work habits of politicians because they are certainly not required to be in their respective Parliaments every day working a 38-hour week even when Parliament isn’t cancelled.

You can find the timetabled sitting dates for Federal Parliament here. Even if teachers only worked from 9 to 3 on school days, they are overworked in comparison to the number of days per annum Members of Parliament have to be in Canberra representing their communities. Recently there has been a few days of sitting under ‘social distancing’ rules to pass legislation for JobKeeper and so on, however not all Members of Parliament were required to attend. Don’t forget federal Parliamentarians collect a ‘living away from home allowance’, currently $291 per night (which is over 7 times the daily rate of the pre-COVID19 JobSeeker allowance) on top of their salary, just for doing something they knew they would have to do when signing up for the job.

Politicians do work far longer than the sitting days in Canberra suggest, as they (to a varying degree) get out into their community and ‘represent the Government’ in a number of ways at irregular hours. Constant travel is part of the job and is physically and mentally draining – just ask anyone who has done it for a period of time. In the past couple of months. politicians have probably been in their offices directing those needing assistance to the current additional support available, probably burning the midnight oil to keep up with the latest stimulus measures and the demand for information. So like teachers, politicians do a lot of work that is not seen by the majority of the community they live in.

Really, Laming and Dutton’s attacks on schoolteachers are purely and simply bashing the unions – a favourite conservative pastime. There is also a state election due in Queensland later this year, fodder for conservative ideological warriors trying to link the actions of a union to that of a political party in what is really a cheap but inaccurate shot.

Cheap shots against ideological enemies is never a good look, especially when it certainly isn’t business as usual. Hopefully in the ‘new normal’, those who frequently engage in the cheap shot to ‘score points’ will be told very quickly by those they ‘report to’ to desist. In this particular case, you can easily make the same argument about the time politicians spend at work as they attempt to make about teachers; a demonstration of the adage that those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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  1. Jack Cade

    George Galloway said ‘I will send my kids back to school when Eton and Harrow etc send theirs.’

  2. Baby Jewels

    Laming is a medical doctor. The product of pampered private schooling. One of those who never progress past the mental age of 14 and never learn empathy or compassion. No wonder he didn’t stay working as a GP. Who would have him?

  3. kerri

    I’ll bet these two leeches fit neatly into the mould of “I love my children! Now please take them away from me!”
    Sick to death of the sooky lah lahs who think teacher’s have it easy and then moan when they are forced to look after the fruit of their Loins themselves!
    Teacher’s have been doing two jobs while parliamentarians struggle to do one!
    Dutton can’t complain given his complete failure at a) protecting our borders from COVID19 and b) spreading COVID19 by bringing his work home from the US.

  4. totaram

    “Hopefully in the ‘new normal’, those who frequently engage in the cheap shot to ‘score points’ will be told very quickly by those they ‘report to’ to desist. ”

    I would hope so too, but any such hopes are likely to be dashed, given the past performance of these people.

  5. Jack Cade


    My late wife ( very late – 22 years ago, now) was a teacher, and two of my children are teachers. My wife – and her daughters now – worked 8.30 to 3.30, came home, made and had dinner, got the kids to bed, then started on school work about 8- 8.30 and seldom finished preparing the next day’s school programme before midnight. Yes, they get it REALLY easy…and they work/worked in primary schools, snot-filled incubators,

  6. Jack sprate

    Andrew Laming should stick to what he does best, drinking a beer whilst preforming a handstand .

  7. RosemaryJ36

    When I taught Year 12 Matric Maths 1 and 2, as well as maths classes at lower levels, school started at 8.30 am, we had about 45 minutes for lunch and a short morning recess, and finished at 2.30 pm. I then marked, prepared lesson plans, the next assignment, assignment solutions and solutions to the problems I intended to discuss with students the next day. If I was lucky I left before 7.30 pm, feeling free to relax! I dread to think how many hours Primary school teachers spend on their preparation, and the thought of surviving teaching a class of up to 25 lively children under 12 from a variety of backgrounds with different ideas of expected behaviour would give me nightmares!
    Get real, Andrew Laming!
    Until you have experienced it, don’t criticise what teachers do!
    Most of them deserve a medal!

  8. wam

    I have a few friends and couple of relatives who think at dutton’s base level but not at his level of intelligence and ruthlessness.
    They are invariably family history or ex-service but completely anti-labor and absolutely hate and distrust the greens.
    Their upbringing makes it all but impossible for them to watch or listen to the ABC, They are frightened of discussion and are quick to violence as a survival technique. They are reflex in subduing and if they are a little down or problems at home they are viscous.
    Most of the long retired coppers or army have not lost any of their fierce loyalty, their acceptance of anything rightwing and their disgust at anything ‘left’.they are fervent christians overwhelmingly catholic and so frightened by muslim ideals that they will believe in any post that fits the fear.
    With all that they are nice people who think I am an idiot for my socialist acceptance of labor lies and trust of muslims(and recently chinese)
    The point that is beyond their level of understanding is ‘unions’. They all belong to a union called an association that enjoys all the rights of the teacher’s union that they want to emasculate.
    Imagine the reaction to this:
    Jesus is honored in Islam because it talks about his virgin birth, his miracles, and the fact that He is called the Messiah.”

  9. New England Cocky

    I love it when parents learn just how dysfunctional their off-spring are in an academic situation and demand that their kids are returned to the government child minding facilities masquerading as education centres so that the parents may get on with their important adult lives free from any responsibility for improving the academic outcomes for their children.

    Nazional$ Party politicians are generally irrelevant to the needs of their electorates and properly belong in other careers better suited to their mediocre talents and abilities.

  10. Jack Cade

    If you want evidence of the traduction of the ABC, look no further than the fact that they have just interviewed Alexander Downer about the China retaliation to Scummo sitting on Donald Fart’s knee.
    Not Kevin Rudd, who I would choose if I wanted to know anything about China. No – Alexander sodding Downer, the lard-arsed squire who lamented that one of his successful sperms had been rejected as an MP by hordes of ‘ordinary people’, blow-ins from the slums into his ancestral Adelaide hills squirearchy.

  11. RomeoCharlie29

    Thanks to the author for pointing out the hypocrisy of the underworked and overpaid politician having the temerity to comment on teachers’ work. My wife, now finally retired, taught early childhood classes full time for about 35 years and then as a relief teacher for a further 15. From my observation she was highly professional and well regarded by peers and superiors, as well as parents.I saw the amount of work she put into preparation and ‘the job’ even though these were very young children, when arguably, education is at its most important. Evenings, week-ends, holidays she spent time working to make ‘aids’ that would enhance the learning experience, and mostly paid for by herself. It is a fact that not all teachers are as hard-working or dedicated but in my experience most are. Comments like those of Laming and Dutton, and all of the other ‘ignorants’ make me itch to do them physical injury, a poor response I admit. There are also many parents who have a similar attitude but who, I am sure, have a much better appreciation of the work of their children’s teachers as a result of the lockdown. To my mind the pay system is wrong when unproductive managers are paid grossly more than those doing the work.

  12. Kronomex

    Just another member of the vile, nasty and mean minded born-to-rule right wing nut job club that is the LNP. I expect the sheep will vote him in again when election time (if Scotty from Marketing and Duttonuci don’t figure out a way to declare martial law before then) rolls around.

  13. susan bedford

    I’ve just read Andrew laming’s Wiki page and it makes no sense to me. How can someone have had so many apparently responsible jobs and academic qualifications in such a short time? He appears to have swept in to lots of places and performed miracles. Maybe Wiki is where the LNP do their Liar basic training.

  14. Matters Not

    Laming was much more than your average GP. Indeed he’s a medico of broad experience who practiced in a wide range of settings – now described accurately as as an ophthalmic surgeon. A bit of an enigma. Like Dutton, he has a healthy respect for the pulling power of teachers – or at least the political muscle exerted by the Queensland Teachers Union (QTU) at both the State and Federal level.

    The landslide that saw Goss swept to power in Queensland in 1989 also saw Laurel Power the (very unlikely) winner of the Seat of Mansfield also on the southside of Brisbane. Power was an influential member of the QTU (Council Representative and Executive Member) and while she was a ‘oncer’ she demonstrated what could be done via hard work and a bit of luck. Also in that vicinity is the Federal seat of Moreton which was won by Garrie Gibson. He was an organiser with the QTU before his election to the Australian House of Representatives in 1990 as the Labor member for Moreton. His election was the first time the Labor Party had ever won the seat, which has existed since Federation, Nearby is the Federal seat of Brisbane which was won by Arch Bevis in 1990 and held until 2010. Bevis was General Secretary of the QTU before his elevation.

    Laming knows what can happen, particularly in a seat like Bowman which was previously held by Con Sciacca – a legend in the ALP in Queensland and foundation Chair of SAS Consulting which had the initial PR contract with Indue (also Chaired by another ALP legend Dawson Petite. Makes me laugh when people in their ignorance claim that Indue is/was an arm of the Nationals.) Laming has good reason to be fearful of teachers. Perhaps he’s just trying to get in early.

    Dutton won the seat of Mansfield from Cheryl Kernot in 2001 despite valiant efforts from QTU members, in particular the one-time President of the QTU Ian Mackie, Kernot thought she ‘deserved’ the seat and wouldn’t do the hard campaigning yards like going to railway stations in the early morning and the like. While some of those QTU executive members who campaigned hard have moved on to higher honors (some to local government positions), Dutton remains in their sights,

    When Bevis was elected to Federal government, he was succeeded as General Secretary by John Battams who was and is a significant political player. While he also had political representative ambitions he was blocked by Peter Beattie. Nevertheless, Battams played a significant role in the defeat of Campbell Newman (he was the campaign manager for Kate Jones who remains the sitting member). Currently John Battams is the President of the ALP in Queensland and he certainly has the ear of the Premier. Dutton has good reason to fearful of teachers, particularly those with QTU connections. Perhaps he too is taking precautionary action. Known to be an enemy of union members .

  15. New England Cocky

    It does my heart good to know that teachers were instrumental in removing Campbell Newman and his inept ideological misgovernment. I assisted the Kate Jones Campaign at that election without knowing her power base. Kate is an excellent member representing the best interests of Australian voters.

  16. Matters Not

    Kate Jones once worked for Robert Schwarten Minister for Public Works and Racing who was once an organiser for the QTU as well. Then – specialised in attempting to ‘blow up’ under powered 6 cylinder vehicles in a vain attempt to convince the QTU hierarchy to give him a V8 so that his travels from Rocky to Western Queensland didn’t take too long. Didn’t mind a beer on a hot day as well. And then a bit of fisticuffs into the bargain. Could fight a bit. And didn’t are what side of the aisle.

  17. RomeoCharlie29

    Although not a Queenslander, I donated to Kate Jones campaign because I really wanted to see that little grub Newman defeated. A small amount of money well spent. Pity the Labor Government I helped elect has so many strange ideas.

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