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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 March 2010) . . Page.. 905 ..

tribute to all the teachers in all the schools across the ACT. They do a fantastic job and are well deserving of our praise and support.

MR DOSZPOT (Brindabella) (4.21): It is my pleasure to speak to the matter of public importance brought to us today by Mr Smyth. As Mr Smyth has said, this week is Catholic Schools Week, a week to celebrate and raise awareness of the strength and distinctiveness of Catholic schools. Across the ACT this week, Catholic schools will all be participating in their own individual ways.

I have already had the privilege of visiting St Thomas Aquinas primary school in Charnwood. Indeed, it was a privilege to have met with the principal, Mr John Bourke, and his staff, as well as students of St Thomas Aquinas. The school’s captains, Olivia and Sam, showed me proudly around their school and told me about their “charny carny”, the fete that will be held this Saturday afternoon at their school; so I encourage as many of you living over Belconnen way to visit their school that afternoon.

I also look forward to attending a number of other events this week, including the breakfast tomorrow at St Michael’s in Kaleen. I am glad to hear that Mr Barr will be joining us there. I am also looking forward to attending the breakfast at Merici college on Thursday and the open day at Rosary primary at Watson on Friday.

Schools across the ACT and region are celebrating by holding a number of functions and activities, ranging from concerts and performances to fundraising activities and open days, which showcase what the Catholic schools have to offer. The theme this year is “open your hearts, open your minds”, as many of our speakers have already said this afternoon. This is very appropriate given the support provided by Catholic schools to their local communities and the sense of community that abounds in the sector.

Mr Barr has touched upon Mary MacKillop and her role as an educator. I was in fact taught by the Sisters of St Joseph. That is the order that was founded by Mary MacKillop. I was taught by the Sisters of St Joseph at St Fiacre’s school in Leichhardt. It is no secret that my wife is a principal of a Catholic school in the ACT and my daughter a teacher at a Catholic school in the ACT. However, I see myself, as shadow minister for education, representing all schools in the ACT, government and non-government.

I have been on a mission since joining this place and acquiring my shadow portfolio responsibilities—a mission to learn about all schools in the ACT, to observe and listen to the issues faced by all parents, educators and school communities. I am well on the way and have learnt a lot since commencing a program of visits to government and non-government schools. My existing knowledge of the Catholic sector, combined with my acquired knowledge, has strengthened my belief that to have effective education across the ACT all sectors must be strong and well supported. There cannot be an “us against them” attitude by any government and there cannot be reference to “blazer schools” nor any other assumptions made based upon religious bias.

It is a basic human right of every citizen to receive a quality education of choice. There is a myth that all students that attend non-government schools come from high

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