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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 3139..


Schools—closures

MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Minister for Education and Training, Mr Barr. Minister, as you already alluded to, the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations today published a scoping study that deals with what should be done in deciding upon a course of action such as implementing major policy like Towards 2020-in other words what should be done as a cost-benefit analysis of such a policy. Minister, what cost-benefit analysis has been undertaken by you, the government in general or your department in relation to Towards 2020?

MR BARR: I thank Mrs Dunne for the question, although I disagree with her opening remarks. One needs only to go to the front page of the P&C's media release. They call it an independent report. They say that they have released an independent consultant's report. They are calling it a report, Mrs Dunne. They are referring to it as some devastating blow to the government's reform agenda in public education. They say that the plan is deficient. Mr Speaker, what is deficient? It is the P&C council on this report. That is clearly the case. I need only turn to page 11, to the footnotes-

Mrs Dunne: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question did not ask the minister for a critique of the scoping study but whether there was a cost-benefit analysis being done by the government. I would like the minister to answer the question: is there a cost-benefit analysis? He has already done a critique of the report.

MR SPEAKER: Well, you did refer to the scoping study, as you described it, so the minister is entitled to respond to your mention of it, but he should also come to the subject matter of the question.

MR BARR: Thank you, Mr Speaker. As I was saying, page 11 says:

There are several papers on these topics-

That is, educational outcomes and quality-what is a key part of the government's proposal-

available on the Towards 2020 web site. We have not reviewed them to prepare this report ...

Let us look in some detail, though, at some of the issues that are raised in the report. It outlines some options around what could be part of a cost-benefit analysis. It talks about distributional effects. Yes, the government has taken distributional effects into account. One of the key issues that the government sought to address is the funding inequity that currently exists within our system whereby resources are divided and dedicated to schools on the basis of their size alone, such that there is a small school subsidy; schools that may not have an educational need or a socioeconomic need for additional resources receive the subsidy for no reason other than that they are small.

What the government is seeking to do is to more fairly distribute educational resources. Our educational resources are significant but they are, of course, limited by the context of the ACT budget. However, one in every four dollars in the territory budget is


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