Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 8 Hansard (6 August) . . Page.. 2983..
MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Members on both sides of the chamber, stop engaging with each other.
MR SESELJA: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. He is embarrassed and he has now opened up the possibility of bigger class sizes under the Labor Party. Last time, there were school closures when they said they would not do it. This time he has left open the possibility ahead of this election that, under the Labor Party, we may well see classes growing. We may well see classes in our primary schools getting bigger across the board. Certainly, in years 4, 5 and 6 we would expect that, under this minister, given his public statement and his statements today, we would see classes grow. Our policy is a good one; our policy is the right one; and our policy demonstrates our priorities. I will close now.
That Mr Barr's amendments be agreed to.
The Assembly voted—
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (5.14): I will briefly wrap up. We are disappointed that the government has decided not to back our policy. We believe it is an excellent policy that will make a real difference to thousands of Canberra families, thousands of Canberra students and, in fact, thousands of Canberra teachers. We believe it is an important step forward. This has been an ongoing process.
What Minister Barr is saying today and was saying in the last two days and in the last couple of weeks is this: it stops at grade 3; this iterative process that we have been implementing about reducing class sizes, under this government, stops at grade 3 and, after that, it no longer matters what the class size is. This is a policy that will empower our teachers and will, in fact, go to the heart of some of the problems.
We have spoken at length about the fact that there are many good aspects of our education system here in the ACT and we are on the record many times that there are good aspects and we get many good results. But there are problems. There are problems in a number of areas. The achievement gap is one of those. The achievement gap is one of the important issues that we need to grapple with. I do not think any minister for education in this place should be comfortable with the achievement gap that exists in the ACT at the moment.