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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 March 2010) . . Page.. 910 ..

In conclusion, I would like to thank Mr Smyth for bringing this matter to us this afternoon as a matter of public importance. I, too, congratulate all teachers and students in the Catholic system as well as in our public system throughout the ACT and our independent schools.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (4.39): I was not planning on speaking on this because I did not think there was time. But I will take the opportunity to speak about the support that the Canberra Liberals have for the Catholic sector, along with other parts of the non-government sector and, indeed, the public sector in the territory. We are big believers in the importance of choice in education and we are very grateful for, I think, and we acknowledge on a regular basis, the important contribution that Catholic education makes to our community and to our education system.

I am the product of a Catholic education and will not hold that against the Catholic education system. But I think we did have very good opportunities in the Catholic schools that I attended. These were not wealthy schools. They were diocesan schools at St Thomas the Apostle school, Padua Catholic high school and St Peter’s Catholic college. They were schools of aspiration. They were schools of hardworking teachers and principals. They were schools where parents sent their kids in the hope that they would get a good education, that they would get a good level of discipline and support, that they would hopefully learn a few other things on the way, whether it be sport or otherwise. I think, for the most part, we got a pretty well-rounded education.

There is no doubt that Catholic schools in the ACT and the non-government sector generally are underfunded. They are underfunded by the federal government and they are underfunded by the ACT government in comparison to other states and territories. If you go over the border to Queanbeyan, Catholic education is generally cheaper. A Catholic education in New South Wales is generally cheaper than a Catholic education in the ACT, with, of course, some exceptions, depending on the school. But for the mainstream CEO schools in New South Wales, because of the superior levels of funding from the New South Wales government, and indeed the commonwealth government, there is a real funding gap.

I thank Mr Smyth for bringing this forward. I think it is a reflection of the Liberal Party’s commitment to Catholic education, to choice in education. The Canberra Liberals, I believe, are the only party in the ACT who genuinely support all sectors of our education system—Catholic, independent and government.

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Mr Hargreaves): Mr Seselja, the time for discussion has now expired.

MS PORTER (Ginninderra), by leave: I just want to correct the record. I think I misquoted. When I was talking about the St Thomas More’s school in Campbell, I mentioned a figure that was incorrect. I was trying to read what was written here. I believe the figure to be $2 million in relation to the construction of the multipurpose hall and further funding of water tanks and a shade structure at that school.

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