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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 8 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 2547..

MR BARR (continuing):

is clearly the case that, if we sit back and do nothing, our public education system will drift into minority status. That is unacceptable, and the government will not stand by and watch that happen. That is why we are investing a record amount of money in public education. There is no doubt that, across the territory, we can improve our performance in education. Of course we can, and we should always strive to do that.

One of the issues that the government is seeking to confront and that the opposition refuses to confront is the current inequitable distribution of resources within our school system. Schools that are smaller receive a subsidy for no reason other than that they are small—not for educational reasons, not for socioeconomic reasons. There are some schools that I feel deserve and require additional support, and that is what the government is seeking to do: ensure a more equitable distribution of our limited education resources across our system.

I believe strongly that we can do better in public education. That is the clear purpose of the government's reform agenda. We want to improve our public education system, but we need to have a hard look at how many sites we deliver our education from, how we can improve the quality of the physical infrastructure of our schools and invest money in additional IT resources and look at the curriculum and a whole range of other issues that are clearly combining to lead to this drift away from the public sector.

MRS DUNNE: Minister, have you delivered a broadside to your colleague for her statement that the education system is in the doldrums, that it is failing and that parents are abandoning it like a sinking ship?

MR BARR: I thank Mrs Dunne for her question. The important issue that we all need to address here is: how can we improve our public education system? I certainly welcome Ms Porter's interest in this issue, her passion for it and her desire to see our public education system improved. Ms Porter's position stands in marked contrast to the irrelevant rabble we have on the other side of the chamber who have absolutely nothing to say about the future of public education.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Come back to the subject matter of the question.

MR BARR: It is very clear. It is part of the subject matter. Ms Porter's interest in and support for reform in public education and improving our public education system is clear and demonstrated. It has been throughout her time in this place. As I say, it stands in marked contrast to the petty potshots that we see from the other side. There is no real interest in engaging on the issues. I am very pleased to be in a government with Ms Porter. She is a fantastic member who works very hard for her constituents and is someone who passionately believes in public education and the strengthening of our public education system. She is the sort of member that this Assembly needs. We need more people like Mary Porter in this place.

Australian Taxation Office computer centre—relocation

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister, who is now the Minister for Business and Economic Development. Chief Minister, you would be aware that the federal government has decided to locate a new Centrelink IT centre in Adelaide.

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