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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 3625..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

salaries, as it is in any business-type enterprise or wherever any service is provided—for government to maintain the nexus between—

Mr Mulcahy: How do pensioners approach their income that way?

MR STANHOPE: Well, you take that issue up with the commonwealth government. How often have you taken up with Peter Costello in the last 11 years the refusal by the commonwealth government to deal with the issue of superannuation and pension indexation by the CPI? You take that up with Peter Costello. Do not ask the states and territories to bear the burden of a lack of compassion by your colleagues in the federal Treasury. (Time expired.)

Schools—closures

DR FOSKEY: My question is to the Minister for Education and Training. Minister, why is the ACT government closing Cook primary school?

MR BARR: As part of a package of renewal of ACT public education, the government undertook a significant assessment of the public education system. We sought to respond to a number of emerging trends. Firstly, I refer to a significant decline in the school age population in the ACT. Since 1995, there has been an eight per cent reduction in the school age population in the ACT. At the same time, the proportion of people over 65 has grown by 45 per cent. We are seeing changing demographics in our city.

Mrs Dunne: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: the minister for education was asked a specific question about Cook school and he has not addressed the issue, in the same way that he did not address the issue when he actually closed the school.

MR SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. The question was asked of the minister: why did he close Cook school? He is going into the detail of it, as far as I can make out.

MR BARR: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The second major factor that was affecting the public education system was that we were losing enrolments at the rate of around one per cent a year out of the public education system into the non-government education system. That is due to a variety of factors, not least of which has been the massive public subsidy that has accrued to non-government schools under the Howard government and the massive underfunding by the commonwealth government of public education in the ACT.

Mrs Dunne: Parents are paying more and more every year under your tutelage and the Stanhope government's tutelage.

MR SPEAKER: Mrs Dunne, cease interjecting!

MR BARR: The combination of a reduction, and a significant reduction, in the school age population in the ACT and a drift away from government schools to non-government schools had seen 30 per cent excess capacity in our public school system.


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