Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 8 Hansard (30 August) . . Page.. 2558..
MR MULCAHY (continuing):
generally. It seems that the government is not sympathetic to the interests of the non-government school sector. It is very proud of its efforts to ensure that government schools are able to match non-government schools but, unfortunately, much of this effort has been to straitjacket the latter rather than to improve the former.
We have seen, for example, the new uniform guidelines for schools and there is further evidence of the ACT government's central planning attitude towards the private schooling sector. During estimates on 20 June the Minister for Education was asked a question about the drifting enrolment towards private schools in the ACT. He responded as follows:
We have also sought to address a range of other issues that all of the research identifies as factors in the drift from public to private schools. Key to that are issues around discipline and policies to address bullying and harassment. I was very pleased after an extensive period of work over the last 12 months to announce new policies within the public system last month tightening a range of procedures and practices around the reporting of critical incidents within public schools, providing a new framework and a greater level of accountability within the public system to address those issues which are identified by parents as a major concern.
Having identified a drift from public to private schools, and having identified that parents have been moving their children away from public schools and into private schools, the government looked at studies to see why that is the case. It found, amongst other things, that discipline and bullying are two of the reasons. In other words, parents who are moving their children into private schools apparently think that this is an issue, and evidently they believe that the private schools, the non-government schools, are doing a better job in this regard.
So one should then ask: What would the ACT government do? Does it seek to emulate this? Does it send its key people over to these private schools to get some pointers? No, it develops a new policy and then it seeks to impose the new policy on non-government schools. In other words, officials identified the fact that they are not doing as good a job as the private schools but they are then coming in and telling them what they have to do. Apparently, as Mr Barr put it in estimates hearings, this is all in the interests of uniformity.
MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Planning, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, Minister for Industrial Relations) (12.30 am): I am drawn to my feet by the comments of the two previous speakers and want quickly to put something on the record relating to school-based management. My office managed to dig out a media release from the leader of the opposition when he was the education minister. I need to quote a couple of sections from Mr Stefaniak's press release of 9 February 2000 in which he lauds the rich rewards for ACT students from schools-based management. The media release begins: