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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 9 Hansard (19 September) . . Page.. 2868..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

For the first time in Australia's history, it has not been possible, in either of the last two years, in an analysis of outcomes from years 3 and 5 in primary schools, to distinguish between the outcomes of indigenous and non-indigenous students. That is the most phenomenal achievement in education in terms of addressing disadvantage achieved by any government in Australia. There is no difference in educational outcomes being achieved in government primary schools in the ACT between indigenous and non-indigenous students—none.

The proposition or the thesis now advanced by Save Our Schools and the Greens and, one thinks, endorsed by the Liberal Party is that, in an environment in which this government has, through its commitment to indigenous disadvantaged and indigenous advancement, achieved a circumstance where indigenous and non-indigenous students are achieving the same results and at the same level in government primary schools is that, nevertheless, we need to assume that the parents of those indigenous children would give up on their children. The press release, jointly launched by the Greens and Save Our Schools, stated that the parents of these indigenous children, if they were required to move their children to another school in the next suburb, would not bother and that these children were at a particular disadvantage because their parents could not be trusted to ensure that those children continued at school.

If they were required to go to another suburb, if they were required to move to another school, the thesis that you are flirting with, Mrs Burke, is that indigenous parents cannot be trusted with their children's education or with the future of their children. That is what the press release says. It comes from a position of judgment—the judgment being, "You cannot trust indigenous parents with their children's best interests,"even in an environment where those children are attending school at essentially the same rate—

Mrs Burke: That is an insult.

MR STANHOPE: It is insulting. It is a gross insult. Go back to the press release and the press conference and listen to what was being said.

Mrs Burke: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I maintain he needs to get to the heart of the question, which was: how then does Towards 2020 take into consideration the needs of indigenous families and their children—no past history, Towards 2020? Can the minister stick to the question?

MR SPEAKER: Come to the subject matter of the question.

MR STANHOPE: This is the subject matter of the question. The subject matter of the question, and the heart of the question, is the determination to ensure a continuation of outstanding educational outcomes in the ACT government education system, whether it be for indigenous students, non-indigenous students or red-headed students. We want the best possible outcomes into the future for all of our children. We are determined to run a system that ensures our capacity to do just that. We have made major inroads. Anybody in this place who stands up and points a finger at this government on indigenous education needs to take a history lesson. They need to look at the past. Before making throw-away remarks for the sake of a stunt in relation to this government's proposals on school closures, they need to look at the outstanding results which we have achieved.


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