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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 13 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 3933..


MR BARR: Thank you, Mr Speaker. They go to the heart of maintaining a quality education system. The government will not be supporting Mrs Dunne's motion. I have circulated an amendment to that motion and I move:

Omit all words after "(No 2); and", substitute:

"(b) the importance of the ACT Government's investment in pastoral care, support for our indigenous students and quality music, language and physical education programs in our schools; and

(2) supports the ACT Government's significant re-investment in the ACT government school system—which includes $350 million for new schools and capital upgrades at existing schools—particularly the $54 million, new preschool to year 10 school that will be built at Kambah.".

In the context of this debate around how our education system should be structured into the future, I looked particularly at the demographic trends that are impacting upon our city. From no greater source than the Australian Bureau of Statistics the data on school age population in the ACT, released in August of last year, indicated that the proportion of the ACT population who were of school age had decreased. Those who were of primary school age decreased from 10 per cent of the population or 31,800 in June of 1996 to nine per cent or 29,200 in June of 2005. The proportion of the ACT population who were of high school age decreased from six per cent, 18,400 persons, in June of 1996 to five per cent, 17,500 persons, in June of 2005.

The biggest area of decline in primary school age children was Kambah. In 2005 there were 1,500 students of primary school age in Kambah, down from 2,100 only a decade earlier and down even further from when that particular suburb was at its peak. The number of primary school age children in the ACT decreased by 2,600 in that 10-year period. Similar levels of reductions occurred at the high school age, particularly in Kambah. Again, the reduction in the number of high school age students in the suburb of Kambah went from 2,300 in 1996 down to 1,400 in 2005—the largest decrease.

These pieces of data from the ABS that I have referred to in this place on at least a dozen occasions in the last year were released in August of 2006. The number of students attending schools in the ACT has declined a further half of a per cent since 2005. The school age population, the demographics of our city, continue to change. I refer to comments from the previous minister when discussing this matter in the Assembly on 26 August 2004. She said:

I think future legislative assemblies, governments and ministers will have to seriously look at this matter ...

We are conscious of the fact that we have seen significant declines in our student population. That will affect not just the government school system; it will also affect the non-government system.

That was on 26 August back in 2004. The government has responded to the change in demographics in our city, the drift away from government schools, the fact that the


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