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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 10 Hansard (16 October) . . Page.. 2928..

MR BARR (continuing):

So whilst Dr Foskey may have had some anecdotal information or someone may have reported somewhere that a teacher has left the system, they certainly would not have done so on the basis of moving to a jurisdiction that paid them more or had them teach fewer hours, because the ACT still remains the highest paying jurisdiction as far as teachers are concerned across the spectrum—as I said with the one exception of a particular pay point where New South Wales has what I think is a 10-point pay scale compared to our nine-point scale and there is about $300 difference at the top end. But, as a result of our most recent EBA, we remain at the top of the class, if you like, for pay rates for teachers. We have the lowest contact hours—equal to or the lowest—across all sectors—primary, secondary and college. This system remains very desirable to teach in, as is seen by the sheer number of applications to teach in the ACT public education system, and as the government continues to invest record amounts in public education. This year's budget was the largest ever education budget in the history of the ACT, the largest ever investment in public education, particularly in the provision of quality schools and quality teaching and learning environments across all public schools. All public schools in the ACT older than 12 years are receiving massive capital upgrades as part of the government's investment in public education. They are desirable places to teach in. We have an outstanding education system. The government continues to build on those strengths.

MR SPEAKER: Do you have a supplementary question, Dr Foskey?

DR FOSKEY: Yes, Mr Speaker. Could the minister please provide any available data or source data regarding the number of teachers below retirement age leaving the ACT education system, and preferably with the reasons for their departures?

MR BARR: I am happy to seek advice from my department as to whether that level of information would be available. I certainly understand that from time to time people do leave the teaching workforce in the ACT to move interstate, to teach elsewhere, if their family is relocated, or they move into another career. That is not unusual. Our teaching workforce, particularly at the college level, is skewed towards the upper end. There is a group of teachers who have been teaching in our college system since its inception in the seventies and there is no doubt that as we move forward in the next five years or so there will be a number of retirements within the college sector. But that of course provides the opportunity for younger teachers to teach in our college system. Ask anyone who teaches in the ACT about the desirability of teaching in our secondary college system. It has always been the case, and remains so, that it is a very popular area for teachers to have the opportunity to teach in and again I simply reiterate that we always have more—many, many more—applications to teach in the ACT system than we have vacancies, and this situation continues.

Hospitals—bed numbers

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, in the Assembly this morning you said that the provision of the 100 extra acute care beds promised by the Liberal Party for the ACT's public hospitals would cost $54 million—that is, $540,000 per bed. In budget paper 3, on page 79, for this year's ACT budget, your

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