Today we stood up in Parliament to oppose the Baird Governments privatisation of prison education services.
Ms JENNY LEONG ( Newtown ) ( 16:48 :51 ): By leave: I speak on behalf of The Greens, including the member for Balmain, Jamie Parker; the member for Ballina, Tamara Smith, who is our new spokesperson on education; and my colleague in the other place Mr David Shoebridge, who has been leading the campaign against this Government's plan to privatise many assets in this State. Today we are debating the privatisation of adult prison education services. One could come into the Chamber at 4.30 p.m. on any Thursday and find a petition signed by tens of thousands of people in New South Wales objecting to the agenda of the Baird Liberal Government to privatise assets. The community needs to run an anti-privatisation agenda as the Baird Government seeks to sell off and privatise anything and everything.
It is appalling that the Government is privatising adult prison education services in New South Wales. The plan of the Baird Government to privatise prison education services is a backward and damaging step, especially at a time when prisoner numbers are at record levels. Education is a proven way to reduce reoffending. We know that without education in the prison system rehabilitation is even more difficult. It is hard to understand what possible rationale this Government has for this plan other than to cut the quality and coverage of teaching in correctional facilities to help beat the enormous cost it faces from the blowout in prison numbers. The Baird Government has put aside $3.8 billion in additional funding to build new prisons, privatise prisons and employ new prison officers. At the same time, it is cutting costs in crucial education services. This is an attack on not only public education services but also prisoners, some of whom are already marginalised and disadvantaged citizens. I recognise that my colleague in the other place Mr David Shoebridge is working to secure an upper House inquiry into the provision of education for inmates in New South Wales correctional facilities.
I acknowledge the presence in the gallery today of people who have campaigned hard on this issue. I acknowledge the Public Service Association, the Teachers Federation, Justice Action and the Community Justice Coalition for their work. Their campaigns out on the streets, in the community and in prisons are ensuring that this Government is held to account when it attempts to once again privatise a service. Once again the Government has failed to deliver for the people of New South Wales. The Government is interested only in profits and big corporate interests. It is interested only in its own agenda. It is not interested in disadvantaged people in our community. The Greens stand here in support of the 14,000 people who signed this petition and in disgust at the Baird Government's attempts to privatise our education system.