Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 2022..
Blue Gum school
MS MacDONALD: My question through you, Mr Speaker, is to the minister for education, Ms Gallagher. Can the minister please explain to the Assembly details of the recently announced increase in funding to the Blue Gum school?
MS GALLAGHER: I thank the member for the question. As was reported in the media last week, I wrote to Blue Gum school indicating that I would be increasing the school's per capita grants by 42 per cent, from $703 per student to $1,000 per student. The disadvantage that Blue Gum find themselves in is something that this government has addressed, something that those on the other side decided, year in, not to address.
By way of background: Blue Gum-and it is reported in the Connors inquiry-was the only non-government school to seek public funding from the Commonwealth and ACT governments since the Commonwealth introduced their SES funding arrangement. As a result, Blue Gum was not in a position to have funding maintained, unlike any other non-government school here in the ACT.
The Connors inquiry brought the situation to our attention. It said Blue Gum was in a disadvantaged position and urged us to redress the disadvantage that they found themselves in. This government has done that. We have put an offer on the table to Blue Gum. So far the response from Blue Gum has been very positive.
When we were deciding on how we could address the disadvantage, we looked at how long government schools are funded for.
Mr Smyth: You've had 18 months.
MS GALLAGHER: Eighteen months? You didn't do it. We had an inquiry.
Mrs Dunne: Blind Freddy could see they were underfunded.
MS GALLAGHER: You did nothing about it; your mob did nothing about it. We had an inquiry. We're backdating it to the beginning of January this year, prior to this report being tabled. I don't think you've got too many unhappy customers over at Blue Gum school.
We found that schools in the non-government sector are, on average, funded four levels above what they would be if the Commonwealth government had not maintained their funding levels. As such, we have increased Blue Gum's funding category by four levels.
MS MacDONALD: My supplementary is: what are the consequences of the changes for other schools in the non-government sector?
MS GALLAGHER: As I just said, all the other existing non-government schools had to have their funding levels maintained, on average, four categories higher than what they would have if the Commonwealth and ACT governments had not maintained their funding levels.