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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (30 July) . . Page.. 3098..

MR PRATT (continuing):

Those values include tolerance and understanding, respect and responsibility. Responsibility includes personal discipline, exercising self-discipline, the way that one treats others and the way that one deals constructively and in a non-violent way with confrontational issues. Those values also include social justice, excellence, care, inclusion and trust, honesty, freedom-which includes the important element of a balance between rights and responsibilities-and being ethical. Those are just some of the values that have been referred to today in debate on this motion. We have not come into this place and talked about some old-fashioned supposed Liberal Party core values.

Ms Dundas: Why did you not say that in your opening speech?

MR PRATT Because I ran out of time, Ms Dundas. However, I now have the ability to reply to issues that were raised in debate. Those values, which were determined by some pretty clever people, could be referred to as discussion starters, or values at which all schools could have a look. I commend this report as being an interesting vehicle for the government to look at.

Ms Gallagher: I have the report.

MR PRATT: I ask the minister to have a good look at that report, to develop and implement a plan, to create benchmarks and to ensure that all schools comply with those benchmarks. The minister should show some leadership by ensuring that all schools are teaching and supporting values. If a school states that it is teaching core values the minister should have a look at it to establish whether it could teach those values a little better. The minister should show some leadership in this important area and she should lay down standards for all ACT schools.

This government must not wait until there is some form of MCEETYA recommendation, determination or action plan, nor should it wait until federal authorities come forward with the funding that they have promised to provide to all schools so that they can run their own forums. At those forums schools will be asked to develop their own values. I will put a pin in Ms Dundas's balloon by stating again that these are the core values that we want our schools to develop in consultation with their communities. But they have to be values that the government is happy to accept and that fit into its framework or policy.

Devil worship might be out of the question, but other important values could be taught. We need a quality assurance check on the values that are developed and taught by these schools after taking into account parents' beliefs, the input of children and consultation between schools and communities. That is how schools will establish what values should be taught. The minister must require all schools to draw up mission statements so that they know what values education is to be taught, and to ensure that they comply with firm government policy and benchmarks.

Earlier the minister said that she was not aware of any schools that were not teaching values education and she challenged me to establish which schools were not doing so, but that is not my job. It is the job of the minister to establish which schools are not teaching core values. She cannot do that if she does not have in place a policy against which to measure compliance or success. So the minister should get on with it. Let us see

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