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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 20 October 2010) . . Page.. 4695 ..


community. That was one of the proudest moments I have had in the Assembly and I congratulate Mr Doszpot on that. What he does not do is chase the 24-hour media cycle. For those that inhabit that space and simply only understand politics from what is going on in the 24-hour media cycle, they do not realise Mr Doszpot’s great advocacy for those in the education and disability sectors.

That is in stark contrast to Mr Barr, who does inhabit the 24-hour media cycle. He is the Assembly’s greatest media tart, Madam Deputy Speaker. He absolutely chases every media opportunity he can, which makes it more obvious when he does not front up to the media. When there is some bad news to deliver or when he has been caught with his pants down on an issue, he sends out his departmental head. Everybody who watches the Assembly now realises that Mr Barr is there for the good times, for the happy snaps with the good media opportunities, and when there is a stuff-up he sends out his departmental heads.

Mr Barr does not listen. He does not take the time. He quite clearly does not care. This is the sort of Kevin Rudd approach that brought Kevin Rudd undone. It is about managing the media, the spin, the happy shots and trying to manipulate all the time, but it is a facade. What you have seen increasingly is that facade crumbling. It has been recognised by the Labor Party. Just look at the benches opposite. Look at his diminishing status within the Labor Party. It has been recognised by the union who are now coming to the opposition rather than to the government. It has been recognised by the parents and it has been recognised by the community.

What is also interesting in this debate is that the parents, the support groups, the union and others went to Mr Doszpot and not to Ms Burch. On the disability issues they did not say, “Let’s go to the minister,” because they know that she will do nothing. They went to Mr Doszpot. Although he has had great success here and the families and the parents and support groups have had great success, there are other vital services that hang in the balance.

I would like to touch on those because they affect one of my portfolios, and that is Indigenous affairs. It is really concerning that cuts would be considered in an area within our education system where we know the gap between the educational achievements of Indigenous students and their non-Indigenous peers is increasing. The national assessment program—literacy and numeracy figures show that more than 40 per cent of Indigenous students in the ACT are failing to meet the minimum standards by year 4. This is in comparison to less than 15 per cent of non-Indigenous students. In numeracy, more than 37 per cent are failing to meet the minimum standard compared with less than 10 per cent of their non-Indigenous peers. The gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students is growing as they get older.

What is the government’s plan? What are they going to do? What is Andrew Barr going to do to address this serious issue? He is going to cut the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literacy and numeracy program. That is a program that is aimed at raising the achievement levels in literacy and numeracy by providing support officers to target kids from kindergarten to year 4. They are planning to cut the five classroom teachers and the position in headquarters to supervise that program. These positions provide vital support to the education system by placing the officers in schools for a


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