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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 10 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 3155..

Education—funding negotiations

Discussion of matter of public importance

MADAM TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mrs Dunne): Mr Speaker has received letters from Mrs Burke, Mrs Dunne, Dr Foskey, Mr Gentleman, Ms MacDonald, Mr Mulcahy, Ms Porter, Mr Seselja and Mr Stefaniak proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, Mr Speaker determined the matter of public importance proposed by Mr Gentleman be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

The importance of a collaborative approach to education and the rejection of the Federal Government's negative approach to education funding negotiations.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (4.00): In the ACT we have the best education system in the country. Our college system is envied by many, our curriculum is growing into a world-class education platform, our teachers and school leaders are the most talented in the country, and our model of continuous assessment serves our students well as they move beyond school into further education or the workforce.

Unfortunately, members, our system is under attack. The federal government have spent the last 12 months threatening to impose their version of education reform by bullying states and territories. During early 2007, state and territory education ministers invited the commonwealth minister to engage with states and territories to meaningfully negotiate the terms of the 2009-12 quadrennial funding agreement. Quadrennial funding agreements are the mechanism within the education funding model which allows the commonwealth the opportunity to work with states and territories to optimise student outcomes and to maximise efficiency in the sector.

The stability of this model is built on a cooperative federalism and an expectation that all participants have the students of our education sector as their number one priority. Unfortunately, we have seen through the press and in this place in recent times that this is not the case. Minister Bishop has abandoned the model of cooperative federalism and shared focus on students, preferring to play politics.

With the timing of the federal election in play, Minister Bishop has sought to implement an education model dreamed up in the Liberal Party room without any real consultation. She has sought to implement this model using the big stick of quadrennial funding. This approach stands in stark contrast to the approach taken by the states and territories who have identified the continuous improvement of student outcomes as the real goal of the funding agreement and have rejected Minister Bishop's bullying tactics.

The state and territory ministers, including our own Minister Barr, have sought to embed an element of jurisdictional flexibility in the agreement so as to protect those things which work for individual jurisdictions. In stark contrast to the rhetoric we hear from those opposite, Minister Barr has stood up to the federal government to protect our college system, to protect our acclaimed method of continuous assessment and to support our quality teachers and school leaders. There is a contrast between the approach of the commonwealth and the approach of the state and territory education ministers to this quadrennial funding agreement.

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