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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 August 2005 2005) . . Page.. 3131 ..

The Chief Minister and the minister have outlined a number of the benefits that will come from the potential development of this new school. It is worth reiterating the fact that the new school will provide, on a single campus, a range of schooling environments that suit the needs of the different age groups for which it will cater. There will be specific areas for the care and education of young children in preschool and in the early years of primary schooling; there will be a middle school to recognise the transition children make from the earlier years of primary as they head towards what have traditionally been seen as the secondary years of schooling; and then there will be the senior areas of the school, where they are truly emerging as young adults into our community and being taught in an environment that recognises that change.

That is a contemporary approach to schooling and one that we know is delivering very powerful results in other parts of the city. When I was education minister I had the opportunity to ensure that the money was made available for the development of Amaroo. Amaroo is an outstanding project. Enormous emotional investment has been put into that school by the community. It is recognised as more than a school; it is recognised as a community asset; it is recognised as a focal point for the community and is utilised as such.

There is one thing I want to refute in this debate. We have heard it said from those critical of this decision, “Why spend money on the buildings? That does not change the educational outcomes.” To some degree that is true. You still obviously need, first and foremost and most importantly, the teachers with the skills to impart knowledge and learning to students. But do not for a moment underestimate the environment in which young people learn and the value of a quality learning environment. It is about more than bricks and mortar; it is about a quality learning environment with access to modern facilities and modern technologies and to the options that will give a truly enriched learning environment for children and young people. Our older schools are struggling more and more to deliver that. Investing in new infrastructure is one way to deliver that essential component in the process of providing the best possible education for children and young people in our community.

The Liberal Party’s motion today is the motion of a party that has no alternative other than to react to the government and no alternative other than to say that whatever the government does is wrong. It is not the motion of a party which says, “We accept that there is a need for improving investment”; it is not the motion of a party that recognises the need to invest in communities and in their educational outcomes; it is simply the motion of a party trying to capitalise on the uncertainty and concern that always arises in a debate like this.

The government has put its proposal on the table. It is a thoughtful, far-sighted proposal and demonstrates a commitment to maintaining quality public education in this area of Canberra. How the community responds to the issues that come up is part of the consultation process the minister has embarked upon. That is a sound and robust process and one that I hope will ultimately lead to a better outcome for this part of Canberra. I obviously support the amendment moved by the minister and oppose the proposal by Mrs Dunne.

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