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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2012 Week 2 Hansard (22 February) . . Page.. 665..


This government needs to give assurances to our non-government school sector. After the government's response to the Gonski report, this sector is none the wiser on what its funding status will be after 2013. The track record of this ACT Labor-Greens government requires such an assurance.

In conclusion, although the government have issued comments to the contrary, comments by the Chief Minister on getting the community to pay extra for education and the past track record of those on the opposite side of this chamber on non-government schools leave much for parents and schools to be concerned about. Hence I once again stress my motion with all of the things we have spoken about regarding the discrepancies between education in Canberra.

We support government education. We support choice. We support non-government education. But we have called on this Assembly to call on the ACT government to stand up for all ACT schools in their negotiations with their commonwealth government counterparts and provide certainty to parents, students and schools in the non-government sector that they will not be worse off in real terms as a result of the proposed changes. This motion is crucially important for this coalition government—the Greens and Labor—to give some reassurance to all of the schools in Canberra, government and non-government, along the lines of my motion.

I just recently received the amendment that the Greens and the government have not been very forthcoming in sharing with us. I must say that I will wait until it is tabled and I look forward to speaking to it, but I think it flies totally in the face of what we are trying to suggest in this motion. I call on both the government and the Greens to consider trying to do something a little bit innovative and honest and include your amendment as part 2(c) of my motion, so instead of deleting paragraphs (a) and (b), which are so crucial, you add your point as paragraph (c). Then we would be all on the same page, all of us looking after and supporting all education in the ACT. Madam Deputy Speaker, I commend my motion to the Assembly.

DR BOURKE (Ginninderra—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Corrections) (5.17): I move:

Omit subparagraphs (2)(a) and (b), substitute: "consider the needs of all ACT students in their negotiations with their Commonwealth counterparts.".

Tension about how we fund and support our schools has long been at the front and centre of Australian politics. Since the early 19th century, conflict over education policy has dominated the public landscape. Before Federation, there were early challenges by Roman Catholic and Presbyterian churches to wrest education from the Church of England and the infamous "free, compulsory and secular"education acts of the 1870s. In the 20th century, the conflict continued. We had such instances as the infamous Goulburn schools closures of 1962, the brawling over sectoral funding between a conservative Senate and the Whitlam government, and the highly publicised defence of government schools—DOGS—court case in Victoria.


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