Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 February 2010) . . Page.. 137 ..
a question there, and it is highlighted again by this report. That is called analysis, Ms Hunter. That is what we do in the Liberal Party.
So there is an analysis of ambulance response times, and in figure 9.28 there is an analysis of staff attrition. Again, we are the standout performer at the wrong end of the chart.
MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Planning, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation and Minister for Gaming and Racing) (10.59): It is a pleasure to be able to contribute to this debate. There is nothing more enjoyable in this Assembly than debating the ACT Liberal Party on matters of productivity and efficiency.
In this particular motion, my attention was drawn particularly to a series of points about halfway through this in relation to an alleged inefficiency in the ACT public schooling system. We heard a little—only a few minutes—from Mr Seselja, and I look forward to Mr Doszpot’s contribution on this matter at some point in the near future.
Mr Seselja made a series of claims. Generally, he endorsed outcomes within the ACT education system, but he drew some particular attention to a couple of tables contained in the report on government services that indicate that, yes, the ACT government spends more per student on government schools than any other jurisdiction bar the Northern Territory. Given the rural and remote characteristics of the Northern Territory, it is no surprise that costs are much higher in that jurisdiction.
The ACT does spend more money. There are two principal reasons for that. One is a policy choice that, until this morning, I took to be one that was endorsed by all parties in this chamber: we have invested more in lowering class sizes. This was a policy that the Liberal Party professed to support, potentially, until this morning, although we will seek some clarification. Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition, when he gets up to reply at the conclusion of this, will reconfirm whether the Liberal Party still supports that policy.
In table 4A.16 in chapter 16 of the Productivity Commission report, we see that the ACT has the second lowest student-to-teacher ratio in public schools of any jurisdiction—the gap most particularly being the case in primary schools, where we have focused our investment in additional teachers. The national average is a student-to-teacher ratio of 15.6 Australia-wide. In the ACT, it is 13.6. Only the Northern Territory has a lower average than the ACT. All other jurisdictions are in the 15s, ranging from 15.3 in WA to 15.9 in New South Wales. A clear policy decision to provide additional teachers in primary schools is one of the key factors why the ACT government spends more per student in the public system than other jurisdictions do. There is what I understood to be a tripartisan position that we consciously make that investment.
The other major factor, although you see this trend changing as you look at the data, has been an inefficient use of public school buildings in the ACT. Pleasingly, if you look at the change from 2004 to 2008, you see that the ACT is making massive strides,