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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 8 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2264..


MR WOOD (continuing):

These changes have resulted in the project now having a very different design from that on which the original project costing had been done. Consequently there has been a delay in moving the project forward. It is the case also that the tight capital works program, including the somewhat overcrowded program flowing from the current year, necessitated the deferral in the 2002-03 budget.

The deferral of the project will then make funds available in the 2002-03 capital works program to address other government capital works priorities. Funds have been set aside, however, within the funding for the Link and library project for this year, the current year, to prepare a further submission for capital works funding to enable the project to proceed to tendering and construction.

Funding of non-government schools

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, my question is directed to the minister for education, Mr Corbell. Minister, I know that your title is minister for education, not minister for government schooling. Therefore, how do you justify allocating only 5 per cent of the $27 million you have allocated as additional funding for schools to the Catholic systemic schools, when they have 28 per cent of the school population, and nothing to the independent schools when they have 10 per cent of the ACT school population? Minister, why have you played favourites and thereby disenfranchised almost half the parents of Canberra?

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, I am sure it comes as no surprise to anyone in this place that a Labor government has a strong commitment to public education. And it is not a view which I have hidden since I have been minister for education. The promotion of an effective, strong, viable and first-rate public education system is a key commitment of this government. That is why this government is spending $27 million more-in fact, is spending more than any other government in the history of self-government-on education in the ACT.

I should stress that 62 per cent of children in the ACT attend a government school. So let us just understand that the government school system is still far and away the key and most significant provider of education services to the majority of people in our community. That said, we also need to understand and work with those people who choose to send their children, as is their right and their choice, to a non-government school.

That is why this government has made a commitment to invest money in information technology for Catholic systemic schools-another election commitment that we honoured in the budget delivered by the Treasurer yesterday.

The government made a clear commitment during the election campaign also that we would assess the needs that existed across the education system in the ACT, and then we would respond on the basis of understanding that need. And that is why we have established one of these reviews which Mr Pratt calls "a bloody nuisance".

That's why we've done it-because it is an election commitment. And everyone in the ACT who represents different voices in the education community has said, "We want to get a better grip on the needs that exist across our system, where the demands are and


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