MORE than 70 per cent of people who voted for the O'Farrell government last year would not have done so had they known about the $1.7 billion in cuts it would make to the education budget, according to a poll.
The survey of 1002 people by Auspoll found 41 per cent had a worse opinion of the Premier as a result of the cuts to the education budget. Of those surveyed, 38 per cent were Coalition voters.
A total of 72 per cent said they would not have voted for Mr O'Farrell had they known about the cuts he would make to the education budget.
Maurie Mulheron, the president of the NSW Teachers Federation, which commissioned the survey, said it was the first confirmation the government had lost support after its landslide win. He said voters in rural areas had been particularly disappointed, which would also send a message to the National Party, of which the Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, is a member.
More than half the people surveyed said maintaining or increasing education funding was more important than the other government commitments such as maintaining the state's triple-A credit rating and building the north-west rail line.
The federation will launch an advertising campaign to protest against the $1.7 billion in cuts over four years to the education budget. A community action day will be held in the city and in regional areas in November.
''They said they would not cut frontline services, but there have been teaching and non-teaching positions lost,'' Mr Mulheron said.
A spokesman for Mr Piccoli said the state government was ''committed to delivering high quality education services and outcomes. But the reality is that we are facing very difficult economic circumstances.''