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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 11 Hansard (22 October) . .

Page.. 3441..


public education system. This is up 5.2 per cent from the previous year. And our investment is paying off. ACT students continue to be the best performing in Australia. Our 2014 NAPLAN test results show that the ACT is top or equal top in 16 of the 20 areas tested.

This government recognises that a school's built environment is vital to quality education. That is why we have spent more than $800 million on capital works in recent years. We have been building new 21st century schools and classrooms to ensure that we thrive in the city's second century.

When we talk of arts, the OECD acknowledges that we must go beyond GDP and economic statistics to get a fuller understanding of a society. It is also important to understand how life is lived. Comparable measures of regional wellbeing offer a new way to gauge what policies work and can empower a community to act to achieve a higher sense of wellbeing for its citizens. The arts are vital to a creative and inclusive community. The arts contribute immensely to the ACT and are a central and sustainable part of life in our community.

The arts help to build an inclusive society, create careers, provide avenues for expression, drive innovation and contribute to productivity and economic growth. Art enhances our quality of life and our experience of public spaces and wellbeing, and the people that inhabit them. The arts stimulate and enrich us, encouraging connectedness and celebration, make an important contribution to our economy and add to the attraction of our city as a tourist destination. Canberrans have an active engagement with arts and culture, attending films, galleries, theatres and cultural festivals at a higher rate than across the country.

The Liberals, of course, see it differently. They oppose public art—even to the extent of refusing to attend the opening of the sculpture of Sir Robert Menzies.

Mr Smyth interjecting

MS BURCH: Mr Smyth laughs but there was not one Canberra Liberal down by the lake when the statue of Sir Robert Menzies was unveiled. We know that under a Liberal regime we would have Mr Smyth sitting in judgement of all arts funding, with regular book burnings and only performances by those agreed by himself and Andrew Bolt allowed to go forward.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order! I think you should withdraw the comment about book burning. Book burning has a very strong connotation in the modern world, Ms Burch, and I think it is unparliamentary.

MS BURCH: If you want to make that judgement, and you have, Madam Speaker, I will withdraw it.

MADAM SPEAKER: I think you should withdraw without comment.

MS BURCH: I withdraw. Let us look at the comment by Mr Hanson regarding an arts grant to Kill Climate Deniers. In this place they have condemned me for funding


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