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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 25 August 2010) . . Page.. 3850 ..


send their children to what he characterises as blazer schools. They are not all blazer schools, but if people choose to send their children to schools where they have a uniform that creates some pride and some recognition and some identification with the school, that is their choice and that is what they are looking for, and that is why, as I am constantly told when I visit schools, if we had more places, we could fill them. The unmet demand in the non-government system is still out there.

We have seen a small change in the statistics, but principal after principal in non-government school after non-government school, big and small, systemic and non-systemic, tells me, over and over again, that their entry-level classes, whether those are kindergarten or year 7 or year 4, depending on where it is, could be filled over again with the unmet demand for people who have their names on waiting lists.

Those waiting lists are there because there are many people in the ACT who, for a variety of reasons, would prefer to send their children to a non-government school over a government school. And I have said here, and I am on the record: I do not want to see the government school system becoming the minority system in the ACT. It is very close to that and has been for many years in the high schools. I do not want to see that happen. It would be bad for everybody if that were to happen. It would be bad for the government schools. It would be equally bad for the non-government schools. But we do not want a system where you have the people who are too poor, too badly behaved and too disabled left in the government school system, because that would be bad. That would be bad for everybody’s achievements.

But Andrew Barr and successive ministers in this government have not addressed those issues. Andrew Barr is better at spin and rhetoric than his predecessors, but his actions do not live up to his spin and his rhetoric. The fact is that he spent a substantial amount of time in his speech today saying, “Well, we have spent more money than other governments”—but not in relation to the size of the budget. He was saying, “We have increased our spending by 43 per cent and that has taken the subsidy from $1,100 to $1,800,” but, when it comes to the crunch, he admits that still we are spending less than 18 per cent. The ACT government is spending less than 18 per cent on children who attend non-government schools, compared with very close to 25 per cent across the border in New South Wales.

And the question still remains: why are the kids at St Benedict’s less deserving than the kids at St Gregory’s? Andrew Barr cannot answer that. He will not answer that, because his party are not prepared to address that question. And, until the Labor Party are prepared to put actions along with their words, we, the Canberra Liberals, will be still the only party that are prepared to support all children in all schools, irrespective of the sector.

Question put:

That Mr Barr’s amendment be agreed to.

The Assembly voted—


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