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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (15 August) . . Page.. 2141..

MR BARR (continuing):

That is an area of significant focus and an area that I will continue to work on because it is important that there is that education provision or else the students in Tuggeranong will miss out. That is not acceptable, and it is not acceptable to hang onto an education system that was designed in the 1970s and 1980s just because it suited the times then. It does not suit the times now and it certainly will not in 10 years and 15 years. That is why we need to make some tough decisions. That is where a little bit of policy credibility comes into play.

That is where the Liberal Party is sadly lacking. You have no policy. You have nothing to say on public education, other than that every idea that comes from anyone else is bad because it comes from this side of the house. That is the fundamental principle of what you guys have put forward. It is disgraceful. It is abandoning public education in this territory. It is unacceptable.

We will not abandon public education. We will strengthen it. That is why we are investing the single largest amount of money in public education that any government has in the history of self-government. Only a Labor government will do that. We are committed to ensuring that there is a viable public education system into the future. That means taking tough decision and engaging in a serious debate about where education systems should be, not just in two years but in five, 10 and 15 years.

These are serious issues and issues that this government is going to take on. Something that I am very pleased to be able to advocate is strong public education. I will not back away from that, no matter what you guys throw at me. This public education system needs investment and it is getting it from this government. We are going to strengthen our public education system.

MR SMYTH: Minister, why have you listed Gilmore primary school for closure, other than that its panoramic views mean it is likely that it will return a premium to the territory when the real estate is sold?

MR BARR: I completely reject that assertion from Mr Smyth. That is an outrageous assertion.

Mr Smyth: You are not going to sell it?

MR SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, cease your interjections.

MR BARR: As I indicated previously, in the Tuggeranong region there are too many primary schools; there are not the demographics; there are not the children. The most recent ABS statistics show that across the ACT there has been an eight per cent drop in the number of people under the age of 15 years in the last 10 years. As an absolute number, there are fewer students. More are going to the private system.

Mr Smyth: What have you done to address that?

MR BARR: I have put forward the most significant reform proposal for public education in the history of self-government.

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