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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 9 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 3206..


Amendment agreed to.

MR SPEAKER: I should explain that that rules Dr Foskey's amendments redundant.

Clause 9, as amended, agreed to.

Remainder of bill, by leave, taken as a whole and agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Sitting suspended from 12.28 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice

Schools—closures

MR SESELJA: My question is to the minister for education. I refer to the 2004 ACT Labor Party election policy on education, which states, "The Stanhope Labor Government has kept preschools with low enrolments open for families to access, when the Liberals would have closed them down."After the election, you closed eight preschools. How do you reconcile your decision to close eight preschools with the commitment to keep preschools with low enrolments open, made during the 2004 election?

MR BARR: If Mr Seselja bothered to have any understanding of the education system, he would note that there are preschools with low enrolments that continue to operate in the ACT. The government undertook a comprehensive review of our education system and sought to make some significant changes in order to enhance the quality of education in the ACT. Most particularly in the early childhood area, that meant a significant investment—and not only in increased hours for early childhood education: this government increased the number of government-funded hours for preschool education from 10 to 12. We are also in the process, with our colleagues in the federal government, of further investing in early childhood education. We have established four new early childhood schools in the ACT and we are working with the commonwealth government to see the implementation of 15 hours of early childhood education through our preschool program.

It is very pleasing to see that take-up of the ACT government's preschool program through these enhanced services has seen the number of students enrolled in government preschools increase in recent times—something in the order of 10 per cent over the last two years—as a direct response to the sorts of reforms that the government has introduced in preschool education.

Across every preschool in the ACT, the government has invested money to improve facilities and to improve the quality of education, be that through dedicated programs for professional development for early childhood teachers or bringing into the territory a range of experts to assist the education department and our teaching workforce to achieve world's best practice in early childhood development. Education ministers have gathered—I had the opportunity to meet my colleagues as recently as


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