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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 25 August 2010) . . Page.. 3845 ..

The Greens have been talking about needs-based funding for a long time, so it is very pleasing that this has now become ACT government policy. We are pleased and agree that the debate has moved beyond the public-private divide and that we should look at how public money is being spent, what the returns on that money are and what the opportunity cost is.

Whilst it is true that the resource divide in some cases is that some independent schools have a lot and some public schools have very little, there is a world of grey in between, and a superficial analysis can sometimes overshadow the real issue of the appropriateness of the resource allocation. We all need to make sure that we are rationally considering the issue. Again, I reiterate that the only rational, fair, equitable and appropriate funding system directs the most funds to the schools that need them the most.

People should have the opportunity to choose an alternative education option. However, they should not have to choose that alternative in order to receive a quality education. The fact is that all children have the right to a quality education. Parents should not have to pay in order for children to receive that quality education. If people wish to participate and send their children to the non-government school sector, there should be no impediment to them doing this. And the government should make a reasonable contribution to their education along with that of all other children.

I wholeheartedly agree that the divisive politics should be taken out of this debate. We need to recognise different contributions and have a reasonable debate about how we get the best returns on the funds available. The Greens do not agree with Mr Doszpot’s motion that we should be blindly looking to increase funding to one sector over another. The better approach is a needs-based model approach. You need to look at the whole system, not just approach it in an ad hoc manner.

I will reiterate that the Greens value the contribution that all schools—that is, the public schools, the independent schools, the systemic Catholic schools—make to the educational outcomes of children in the ACT and that we should be very pleased at the results being achieved by these schools. Of course, improvements can be made, and our view is that the amended motion better reflects how we should be approaching the issue of delivering the best quality education we can to our children and young people right across the territory.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (11.06): I thank Mr Doszpot for bringing this motion forward, because it is true, and it highlights again, the fact that there is only one party in the ACT that is committed to both the government sector and the non-government sector. That is a fact.

How do we know this? We know this from the record over many years. We know this from the record of the Labor Party at a national level and at an ACT level; we know it from the record of the Liberal Party at a national level and at a local level; and we know it from the policies of the Greens. So we can all stand here and we can hear from Mr Barr, and he says the public-private debate is over, but let us look at the record and let us look at the facts.

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