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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 22 November 2007) . . Page.. 3729 ..

Schools—Harrison primary

MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Treasurer. The second appropriation bill provides funding of $1.42 million for cost blow-outs associated with the construction of Harrison primary school. Treasurer, why have the costs of this project increased so markedly since the previous appropriation bill?

MR STANHOPE: This is a wonderful project. This question gives me an opportunity to indicate the extent to which my government’s unprecedented investment in public education is being supported by the community. With respect to the Liberal Party’s philosophy, as expressed by the shadow minister for education, we do not regard this additional funding for Harrison—

Mrs Dunne: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: under the standing orders, if a member asks a minister a question it does not give him the opportunity to talk about anything he wants. He was asked a specific question about the second appropriation bill and the $1.42 million. He can’t talk about anything else that he wants to talk about.

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

MR STANHOPE: I must say, Mr Speaker, that I thought I was. I was talking about the investment of $1.4 million in Harrison primary school being part of an unprecedented investment by this government in public education—an investment now, and in the last couple of years, that has been in excess of $350 million. I do not see how that is not relevant to the question about funding for a public primary school.

What we are doing here is consistent with our attitude to the importance of education, and particularly public education, which is the great equaliser and the single greatest illustration of a government’s commitment to the good old Aussie iconic character of a fair go. There is nothing that exemplifies the spirit of a fair go more than a government’s commitment to quality public education. I am not a bit embarrassed that, in order to maximise the wonderful returns that I know and the people of Gungahlin know Harrison primary school will return, we are adding an additional $1.4 million to the already in excess of $350 million that we have provided for public education in the last couple of years.

I know, and we all know, that Mrs Dunne regards this $1.4 million as another $1.4 million of good money being thrown after bad. We all know that. I can’t remember a single instance when Mrs Dunne has applauded any initiative that this government has taken in relation to public education—not the establishment of a new school in Belconnen and not any aspect of this massive investment of $350 million. Not once has there been an acknowledgement that this is good money being delivered to serve a good purpose. It is a matter of pride to me in the first instance that we are building a fantastic state-of-the-art primary school in Harrison. I think it is absolutely fantastic that, in the last two years, we have invested an additional $350 million in public education, and the fact that we can now add to that an additional $1.4 million for this particular purpose through this second appropriation bill is excellent.

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