The TPP/TISA Trade Agreements Will Force Australia to Privatise Education

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Des Pensable copyright 2016

Imagine if the Turnbull government later this year announced that it had decided that all schools, colleges and universities in Australia MUST be privatised over the next several years because we have signed an international agreement that says we have to?

You probably can’t imagine this happening because you wouldn’t expect any Australian government to sign any agreement that FORCES us to do something that momentous that the majority of Australian people might be against, certainly not without our agreement.

Well it’s REALLY happening. The new TPP and  TISA “trade” agreements are about much, much more than trade. The TPP is a 6000 page document which sets about to restructure the whole of Australian society, culture, working conditions and law. These agreements mandate and that means FORCE Australia to privatise all government services including education and Australians won’t get a say in it.

They even go further than this. They stipulate that once privatised, any new state or federal governments CANNOT go back to providing government services, even if the privatised services are considered substandard or not in the interests of the parents.

This will never happen you say. You’re wrong! The federal government has already assumed that the TPP/TISA agreements will be signed before the next election this year. PM Turnbull has been in the USA lobbying them to ratify it as soon as possible.

The Abbot government had already set the privatisation of schools and TAFEs into motion before we’ve even ratified the TPP. They’ve already done this by telling the states that the federal government is budgeting to cut the Gonski funding that was promised to bring state schools up to a higher standard.

The states will have to somehow find billions of dollars to do this. Treasurer Hockey was in favour of paying more for education by raising the GST to 15%. Some state premiers such as LNP Premier Baird are in favour. That’s an extra 5% tax on every person in Australia (but not the corporations) which is unlikely to get through a combined Labor/Greens vote in the senate.

The only alternative then will be to privatise but education authorities say privatising education is a really bad option. The UN argues that privatising education is bad as it increases the inequality gap between the rich and poor. We already have too much inequality.

The Victoria, NSW and Queensland have already started to privatize their TAFE systems with major resistance from TAFE teachers, unions and past and present students. NSW is currently considering downsizing its TAFE and selling campuses. Premier Baird recently announced he will cut half the TAFE budget favoring private providers.

According to NSW Greens senator John Kaye last year, “More than a third of the teaching workforce has been hollowed out by an intentional strategy of dumping TAFE into competition against lower quality private providers.” “There are now 3,610 fewer teachers than three years ago.” A recent report showed that privatising the TAFEs is failing badly.

Privatising the TAFE system pales into insignificance compared to privatising every state’s primary and secondary school systems. Imagine the chaos, different private local and foreign companies offering widely different courses for widely different costs. Imagine mass unemployment of teachers; lower salaries; no unions to uphold standards; compulsory religious education; McDonald’s primary schools and KFC high schools.

The Turnbull government is selling the TPP trade agreement as economically essential for us yet the World Bank has suggested that it offers little benefit to Australia, perhaps a 0.7 % increase in GDP by 2030.  The TPP has been criticised as increasing inequality and causing the future loss of 39,000 jobs in Australia.

Andrew Robb the Australian Trade minister says the World Bank is wrong but can’t show us any economic models that disprove the World Bank model. Another independent US study also showed that Australia would receive virtually no benefit with only an increase in GDP of 0.2% by 2025.

If we hardly gain anything economically from the TPP why the hell are we signing a trade agreement that will FORCE Australia to change its perfectly good educational system ?

Signing the TPP doesn’t seem to make any logical sense unless it’s about a furtive attempt by the Australian government to assure the USA sticks to the ANZUS treaty.  Is the TPP just about US geopolitical posturing or perhaps a failing US dollar? Is the Australian education system to be a sacrificial lamb to neoliberal ideology?

Whatever the real reason, Australian children will suffer and so will our future unless we refuse to ratify the TPP and TISA agreements.

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Check out other stories , satire and poetry on the Des Pensable web site.

NOTE- News Update (articles after this was published.)

  1. Paul Goulter: TPP puts profit ahead of quality education
  2. Concern as private training colleges to compete with TAFE to teach HSC courses
  3. This is how they will privatize the Australian public schools. The Government announces decision to privatise all state schools in England
  4. Selling off the Family Jewels – a simple article about privatisation in Australia
  5. Privatisation has damaged the economy, says ACCC chief
  6. We will smash their business model: Simon Birmingham outlines private college crackdown

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Des Pensable

Des is a native of Sydney where he currently lives with his partner Joanne. He has a PhD in neuroscience and worked as a biomedical scientist where he published widely in several areas of science. Since retiring, he’s been a keen writer of poetry, stories and philosophy which appear on his web, blog site and on line literary publications. He is also a performance poet that appears regularly in venues around Sydney.

2 thoughts on “The TPP/TISA Trade Agreements Will Force Australia to Privatise Education”

  1. I believe you’re completely right, Des. We know that right-of-centre parties have always claimed to believe in “small government”. Right-of-centre in the Australian context, appallingly and weirdly, now includes the ALP and in the context of the UK, where I currently live and equally strangely, the UK Labour party – at least up until the magnificent election of Jeremy Corbyn.

    In the past such parties when in government have done little to put their small government idea into practice, but this seems to have changed lately, at least here in Britain with the arrival of a Cameron government with a majority (i.e. not beholden to the Lib Dems as they were until last year’s election). Now Cameron is going full steam ahead privatising absolutely everything, including and especially the NHS despite explicitly promising before the election that this wouldn’t happen.

    And yes, it’s also happening to schools. The method in this case is quite simple and completely transparent (Conservatives don’t even know the meaning of the word shame!) First, because we have to have austerity (they tell us) to recover the economy, budgets are cut forcing schools to pare back their services – increased class sizes, fewer facilities, etc. etc.. Their performance inevitably suffers as a result – poorer exam scores, more children failing. This allows the government to label such schools as “Failing”, which the government then use as an excuse to convert them to “Academies”, removing them from the control of local government and effectively selling them off.

    Although this technique (from Cameron’s perspective) works well, it would be so much easier if they were forced, by a trade agreement, to cede all control over public services to multinationals and wash their hands completely of having to run education, health care, prisons, police, transport, roads, water, energy and the rest – instead just sitting back and watching the dividends pour into their bank account from their shares in those same multinationals. These dividends paid for by the rest of us in fees for everything, both directly and (if we’re in the poor 99% and so have to pay them) through our taxes.

    No wonder the bastards want to sign it. Can we stop them? I bloody hope so.

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