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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 9 Hansard (20 September) . . Page.. 2962..

MR BARR (continuing):

The government has recently gone to tender for project managers for the works to be undertaken this financial year. These works include improvements to specialist teaching and learning areas, such as science labs, home science areas, art rooms and sporting areas, as well as upgrades to play equipment, new landscaping, new paint, new carpets, new glazing, and upgrades to staffrooms and canteens. There will also be some much-needed work in the areas of heating, plumbing and electrical connections, as well as works to increase accessibility for students with special needs.

This financial year there will be 223 separate projects undertaken to improve more than 72 schools across the territory. Over 72 schools will benefit from having new play areas, new specialist teaching and learning areas, improved heating and electrical systems, new windows, new external painting and new landscaping. This initiative has been well received by school communities. Certainly no-one has suggested to me in over 80 meetings that I have had with school communities and the 60 or so school visits I have undertaken since becoming minister that this investment was not welcome and that investing in our schools was not welcome. So it was very much of concern to hear this morning the opposition's spokesperson on education, Mrs Dunne, describe this funding injection as throwing good money after bad. It was a revealing statement of what we would see if the opposition ever got into government. It was a quite extraordinary statement from a would-be education minister.

In the electorate of Ginninderra, the electorate that Mrs Dunne purports to represent, 19 schools are to undergo some upgrades: Aranda primary school, Belconnen high school, Charnwood primary school, Copland college, Evatt primary school, Florey primary school, Fraser primary school, Hawker college, Kaleen primary, Kaleen high, Lake Ginninderra college, Latham primary school, Macgregor primary school, Macquarie primary school, Maribyrnong primary school, Melba high school, Miles Franklin primary school, Southern Cross primary school and Weetangera primary school.

I ask those opposite to explain to those school communities, to the parents of students in their own electorate, how the government's investment is throwing good money after bad. Take Fraser primary school as an example. It is undergoing four separate projects for capital upgrades, including external painting, upgrades to heating and ventilation, landscaping and playground upgrades, and the replacement of carpet in parts of the school building. How do Mrs Dunne and the opposition see that as throwing good money after bad?

The answer is that they do not see investing record amounts of money in public education as important. They do not see education as important enough a matter even to have a policy position in this major debate about the largest reform of public education in the history of ACT self-government. They do not have any credibility when it comes to this issue and the people of the ACT can see right through them.

The government's record investment in education contained in the 2006-07 budget is delivering real and tangible benefits to students in ACT government schools and is increasing the quality of teaching and learning environments for our teachers and students across the territory. The government is getting on with the job of investing in our education system.

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