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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 March 2010) . . Page.. 893 ..

We welcome the ICRC’s report on the premium tariff rate and look forward to seeing the minister’s decision in regard to the premium tariff for the year ahead.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Catholic education

Discussion of matter of public importance

MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Mrs Dunne): Mr Speaker has received letters from Ms Bresnan, Mr Doszpot, Mrs Dunne, Mr Hanson, Mr Hargreaves, Ms Le Couteur, Ms Porter, Mr Seselja and Mr Smyth proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, Mr Speaker has determined that the matter proposed by Mr Smyth be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

The role of Catholic education in the ACT.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (3.42): It is an important issue, the role of Catholic education in the ACT, and we put forward this matter of public importance particularly this week because it is Catholic Schools Week.

Mr Barr: Indeed. Hear, hear!

MR SMYTH: And I acknowledge the “hear, hear” from the minister. It is good to see that he supports and believes in Catholic education and Catholic Schools Week.

The main aim of Catholic Schools Week is to raise awareness and celebrate the strength and distinctiveness of Catholic schools. The theme for Catholic Schools Week 2010 will be “open your minds, open your hearts”. And it is very important in a system like ours where there is choice in the system, and, given that we have fundamentally a good government education system that is complemented by the independent schools, that we do understand the size and the nature of that.

Given that we have not got the 2010 census yet—but I am sure it is not far away—the February 2009 census shows that there were 64,380 students attending ACT public and non-government schools. Of these, 38,280 were in government schools. There were 26,100 students attending the 44 non-government schools, which is about 41 per cent of our student population. Of those 26,000, something like 17,400 were in the Catholic system, both systemic and non-systemic, which is about 27 per cent of our students and a significant proportion. So it is important that we understand what goes on in the non-government sector, and in this case the largest part of the non-government sector, the Catholic system.

The theme this year for Catholic Schools Week is “open your minds, open your hearts”. The website says:

Since the first Catholic schools were opened in Australia in the early nineteenth century, they have become known as places of both learning and outreach. This theme should allow schools to choose activities that highlight the wonderful

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