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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 5 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 1596..

Gungahlin College is holding a political forum with students from a number of schools. The event will use the latest technology to share the event across other schools, including an overseas audience.

Walk to school day occurs on Friday. Macgregor Primary School will be one of the schools participating, as it has for 10 years.

I encourage parents to link up with their schools and celebrate public education week.

I would like to briefly compare the celebration of public education schools with what we heard on Tuesday in what we have heard described as a mean federal budget. Courtesy of Mr Abbott and the Liberal Party, the commonwealth will abandon the previous commitment of increasing commonwealth funding by 4.7 per cent. Mr Abbott and the Liberals have walked away from promises around bringing all schools up to an equitable national level of funding. Although the commonwealth funding will continue to increase in the outyears, it is at a much slower rate and no longer with equity as a principal consideration.

The budget of the commonwealth, through the Liberal Party, will also cease funding to the promised centre for quality teaching and learning at the University of Canberra—$26 million committed, but $25 million left unpaid. This would have been a centre that would have supported our schools and would have supported our teachers to ensure that our kids in the public system here had the best teachers that we could find.

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Minister, how is the government working to ensure that the ACT has the best public education system in the country and that all students and families can have confidence in their local public school?

MS BURCH: We are on the front foot with initiatives and best practice ideas for first-class education. We are opening state-of-the-art schools and refurbishing existing ones. We have a policy that supports our gifted and talented students and we are looking at a new testing regime for our teachers that we are recruiting to our public schools. The results clearly show that what we are doing is working. The 2013 NAPLAN results released last December show that ACT students are ranking top or equal across 20 of the areas tested.

We have also recently had two of our wonderful teachers honoured with national awards for excellence. Geoff McNamara of Melrose high and Kate Smith of Hughes primary are those two wonderful teachers. I am pleased to acknowledge that we have bipartisan support for the government's achievement in our schools. Mr Hanson himself has told the Assembly that we excel in the ACT. I recognise that. We have got a great non-government and public school system and they support it. If only their federal counterparts supported public education and the non-government education across Australia.

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