Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 April 2022) . . Page.. 845 ..
when our student communities are grappling with the significant and ongoing burden of COVID-19, which we know has only deepened economic inequality.
It is worth also underscoring at this point that private schools are never subject to the same level of attack and public scrutiny as public schools. While scrutiny and transparency are core values of good governance, these values should also translate to equal concern across our entire schooling system. The ACT public education system requires significant attention, including short-term workforce management changes; increased social supports to schools whose students are struggling, particularly with the social and economic challenges that have been exacerbated by COVID-19; and also the neglect of successive years of neo-liberal governance from the federal government. This motion today has been an opportunity to highlight these issues and recommit the government to doing what is in our control to manage and improve those extremely challenging circumstances.
MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (3.20): I thank members for their contributions. Let me say at the outset that I love public schools. I am a product of a public school, Gympie State High School—a fantastic school. We would all join together in saying that we have a bunch of great schools. We would all want to commend the teachers that we have, regardless of whether they are in government schools, non-government schools or Catholic education—across the board.
You are an ex-teacher, Mr Assistant Speaker—an ex-principal. We can all look back in our lives and think of a teacher, or maybe a couple of teachers, that we knew who were transformational in our lives. The Canberra Liberals are committed to public education. If you listened to what Ms Lee said in the chamber today, and previously, and to what I have said, you would know that we are very strong supporters of our public education system.
Indeed, the motion that I have moved here today, in my view, is very reflective of that. There is no critique, no criticism, in it of our public education system. It is simply saying, “Let’s make sure that the system is resourced adequately.” My motion actually calls for more resources to be put into the public education system.
I know that this works for the Greens—they like to do it—and I think there are sections of the Labor Party as well, that try and create this quasi-class divide between government schools and non-government schools. I think that is disingenuous. I think that is unfortunate.
It is also true that, obviously, public schools—the government schools—are going to receive more attention than non-government schools. We are their major funder. We are their regulator. We hire their staff, which is not the same, obviously, as for non-government schools. If the government were to reject my motion today, they are actually rejecting a call for more resources to be put into the ACT government system.
There has been an ongoing funding debate for a while about ACT schools. It goes back to Gonski, and it goes back a long time, to when Gonski was first mooted by the then Prime Minister, Ms Gillard. The first state or territory to sign up to that was the ACT. It is a needs-based funding arrangement, as the minister would be aware. When