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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 3140..


MR BARR (continuing):

expended on education and training. It is the second largest area of expenditure in the ACT budget, but an area where we need to be conscious of ensuring that we get the best outcomes, that we have the fairest distribution of those funds across our system. That is clearly not the case, so in putting forward the government's proposal we have sought to address the distributional effects that are there between socioeconomic groups between different regions of the city.

The report raises a range of issues around the government needing to take into account one-off costs and benefits that would result from any closure of schools. Members would be aware, if they looked at the details on the Towards 2020 web site and the financial costings that have been made available on that site, that there are significant amounts of money dedicated to one-off costs of closure of schools. That has been accounted for. That money is there and available as part of the process.

The report mentions staff relocation. We have a process under way to address that. Student counselling: we have individual transition plans to assist students who may be affected by the proposal. The consultant raises an issue around educational services and talks about the need for a broader curriculum. We are doing that; we have a curriculum renewal process under way, as Mrs Dunne has alluded to in media releases in this place. The report also mentions transport. We have a process under way with ACTION to look at school bus routes. Obviously, no decisions have been made; it is a proposal at this point. Once decisions are made, we will make the necessary adjustments to school bus routes to ensure that there are transport options available for students.

The report indicates that schools have different uniforms and there will be a one-off cost for students who are required to change schools. Again, through the government's transitional assistance funding we will provide money for students and families who may be affected by a school's closure and have to purchase new school uniforms. The report talks about rental incomes and school operating costs. Again, those issues are addressed in detail on the Towards 2020 web site. There is a quote about the availability of detailed costs and that this precludes the need for statistical analysis and the associated uncertainty. It means it is relatively easy to make changes. (Time expired.)

MR SPEAKER: Do you have a supplementary question, Mrs Dunne?

MRS DUNNE: Yes, thank you. I think that the answer is probably no. Therefore, minister, why haven't you done more-as you say, one in four dollars is spent on education-to ensure that the costs of education and the costs of this policy do not outweigh the benefits?

MR BARR: We are addressing all of these issues, both in the development of the proposal and during a consultation period. I was cut off halfway through that quote from the report on page 9. It says:

The availability of detailed costs by school appears to preclude the need for statistical analysis and the associated uncertainty. It also means that it is relatively easy to make changes to estimates for assessing the effect of individual school closures; this may be useful as part of the consultation process on the proposal.


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