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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 3 Hansard (2 April) . . Page.. 869..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

non-government sector and so blatantly opposed to the public sector not pose questions in relation to declining enrolments to include the Catholic systemic system in the question and ask the government does it have any advice on or understanding of the reasons for the decline in systemic Catholic school enrolments over the last year? Do you know what they are? Can you sort them out? Have you asked? Is ours the only system with declining enrolments? Have the Catholic systemic schools increased their enrolments over the last year?

Do the Liberal Party and Mr Smyth make the same criticisms of the Catholic system as he makes of the government system? Does he stand here today and say that everything he has just said about the government system applies equally to the Catholic systemic system? Does he stand and say it? No, he does not. He does not inquire about the system across the board. He does not inquire, ask or suggest he has any interest in whether or not this particular issue which affects just the government system is a serious issue.

We are seeking to address it, and we have taken the hard decisions and are putting money into the system to ensure that the ACT government school system retains its place and its reputation as the best government school in Australia and, on international comparisons, in the best five systems in the world. It is a system I am enormously proud of. I look forward to continuing to work with the government school system in the ACT to the point where it will be the best system in the world. That is the aspiration. We are nearly there. That is what we seek to achieve with this massive, historic $350 million investment in schools as a feature of the last two budgets. I believe that we will, with continued effort and commitment, sustain continued improvements in the ACT government education system.

It has to be said that we will do it without the support of the Liberal Party in this place because they do not care; they do not have the gumption for it; they do not have the stomach for it; and, quite simply, they do not care enough about government schooling to make the effort. Essentially, they do not care about it. It is not their system of first choice, as it is ours. We will do it and we will do it without your support and we will do it without you on side.

Council of Australian Governments—meeting

MS MacDONALD: My question is also to the Chief Minister. Can the Chief Minister inform the Assembly of the benefits that will flow to the people of Canberra from the decisions reached at last week's COAG meeting?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms MacDonald for her question. It is a very important question, and, indeed, it was a very important meeting. I was pleased to attend last week, on behalf of the ACT, the Council of Australian Governments meeting, the first of four proposed meetings for 2008. There were a number of very significant issues discussed. One of the foremost of the issues was agreement on a cooperative and accountable arrangement for the Murray-Darling Basin.

All basin governments, which, of course, include the ACT, agreed at COAG to a new approach to undertake reform in securing water for households, farmers and the


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