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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008-2009 Week 1 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 68..


MR BARR: I thank Ms Burch for her question. I congratulate her on her election to this place and, most importantly, for asking her very first question about the most important topic that we can discuss in here, and that is education.

I had the great privilege last Friday of attending the Australian education ministers first biennial forum in Melbourne. The forum included all education ministers and over 350 educational leaders from around Australia and New Zealand. The forum showcased the best practice evidence-based approaches to helping low socioeconomic school communities and improving school workforce development, literacy and numeracy. The biennial forum is set to become a major event on the educational calendar, hosted by a different jurisdiction every two years and bringing Australian educational leaders together to share best practice and innovation.

At this forum all education ministers agreed to the national declaration on educational goals for young Australians, which will henceforth be known as the Melbourne declaration. The key goals of this declaration are that Australian schooling promotes equity and excellence and that all young Australians become successful learners, confident and creative individuals and active and informed citizens.

I am pleased to inform the Assembly that, after a period of 11 long years that saw education used as a political football by the Liberals, a period of new federalism has emerged that through the Melbourne declaration is delivering more than just words.

The Rudd government, as every Labor government does, won the 2007 election largely on the issue of education. Labor has always been the party of education, and I am very pleased to say that, in partnership with jurisdictions such as the ACT, the Rudd government is maintaining that tradition. In contrast to that dark period of 11 years of neglect of public education, the election of the Rudd Labor government has seen the commonwealth joining with the ACT in making massive investments in public education.

For example, and I know those opposite are very pleased to hear about this, we have been working effectively to deliver the digital education revolution, and in just the first round more than 2,800 new computers have been delivered and are operating within 23 ACT schools. We look forward to the further rollout of that program. It was very pleasing to see that the Rudd government did contribute an additional $800 million to the states and territories to meet the additional costs associated with rolling out this agreement over the next four years.

It is worth noting that the ACT is the best placed of all states and territories to implement this new commonwealth initiative, because we had the foresight back in 2006 to invest $27 million in a state-of-the-art broadband network for all of our public schools.

It is worth noting that the cooperation moves beyond the digital education revolution. We are working to develop a national curriculum. We are working to develop, and have developed, national testing and national reporting that provide students, parents and carers with the information that they have been asking for. And, recognising that


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