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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 9 Hansard (21 September) . . Page.. 3045..


MR BARR (continuing):

The government acknowledges, as I have at numerous public meetings, that there are additional costs associated with providing education for students with special needs. The average cost is available and was made publicly available through the budget process. As I said, we had considerable debate on this issue in the estimates process. I indicated at a number of meetings with organisations, with individual school groups and with individuals that I am not going to compromise and seek to single out individuals within schools on the basis that they might attract educational resources.

One of the key issues that are in play in this debate more broadly is, in fact, that educational resources are devoted where there is special need and additional educational need, not simply on the basis of a subsidy because a school happens to be small. Taking all of that into account, we are working towards providing that information in a way that is meaningful and does not compromise individuals' privacy on additional resources that they might receive through our education system.

MR SESELJA: Minister, given that you have made this undertaking and given that the Education Act requires that you have regard to the educational, financial and social impact on students at schools, students' families and the general school community, when will you make these figures available?

MR BARR: Thank you, Mr Seselja, for the question. I am certainly aware of my responsibilities under the Education Act. It is something that I take very seriously. The information will be provided, as I indicated in my previous answer, when we are able to do so in a way that will not compromise an individual's privacy on additional support needs that they might receive.

Multicultural affairs

MS MacDONALD: My question is to the Minister for Multicultural Affairs. Minister, there has been a great deal of public debate recently about what are Australian values and what our migrants should do to earn citizenship. Are you able to tell the Assembly what our multicultural community has contributed, regardless of whether they were citizens or not?

MR HARGREAVES: I thank Ms MacDonald for the question. Canberra owes a great deal to those in our multicultural community, both today and throughout this city's history. As we approach the centenary of Canberra's foundation, it is appropriate that we reflect on the immense contribution that the multicultural community has made to the look and feel of the city and to who we are as Canberrans.

From the coffee that we drink and the restaurants we dine at, to the homes that we live in and the retail stores that provide our supplies, Canberra—the nation's capital—was built on a foundation of cultural diversity. We need to recognise that we are all migrants to this country and, from the start, lived in a multicultural setting. It is a little known fact that the first Governor of New South Wales, Captain Arthur Phillip, had a Chinese cook. Phillip presided over a settlement of English, Welsh, Scots and Irish, who all had their own language, which was visited by the French, American and Spanish and Pacific Islanders.


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