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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 7 Hansard (16 May) . . Page.. 2178..


year for the noteworthy program. ActewAGL sponsors the CSO with $31,000 per year. The community's high esteem for the CSO is also reflected through the ticket sales and sponsorship from St George Bank, Shell, the Molonglo Group, the Macquarie Group, BAE Systems and the many local businesses that provide valuable private support to the CSO.

Now we can also add the Russian Federation as an admirer of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra. Once again, thank you Russia for this wonderful gift, which brought so much pleasure to hundreds of Canberrans last week.

Education—public system

MS BERRY (Ginninderra) (4.16): As we all know, next week is Public Education Week, and I thought it would be timely, again, to talk about the great things that public education contributes to our community. In this centenary year we should celebrate the achievements of the public education system here in the ACT. Australia was the first country in the world to have a nation-wide free, secular and compulsory public schools system. In fact, it is a system that pre-dates our own great city.

It should be a matter of pride for all of us in this chamber that a majority of parents choose to send their children to a public school. And why would they not? Canberra's public schools are some of the best performing schools in the country. Whether it is in English, maths, science, performing arts or social sciences, our public schools consistently perform above the national average.

The wonderful thing about public education is that it breaks down privilege and welcomes all children in our community to learn, play and grow together—kids from less fortunate backgrounds playing with kids from more fortunate backgrounds. I think some of the people in this place would have benefited from playing with kids from less fortunate backgrounds.

The families of the children help to shape the values of their schools, and they too learn from one another, thereby increasing the links in our community. And these values have a lifelong effect on our children.

Former justice of the High Court Michael Kirby, whilst being interviewed by Fran Kelly on Radio National, had this to say on the role that public education played in shaping his values:

In my opinion, where you're educated, your schooling, your values, the democratic secular values that I received in my public education, really are hardwired in me. And the values affect the decisions you make. We can pretend they don't. We can hide them. We can disguise them. We cannot reveal them in our judicial opinions. But they're down there, affecting the decisions, affecting the way we see words in the Constitution or statutes and so on.

I was very pleased to see the Public Education Week art show in the library last week and, like the minister and Mr Doszpot, I cannot wait until we spend a month celebrating our public education system.


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