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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 June 2018) . . Page.. 2121 ..


years to make an immediate start on providing the best possible teaching in every classroom. Where is the detail and how will this $2.3 million a year be spread amongst our 3,600 teachers in 87 government schools?

On 24 May, the minister said in a media statement:

With an additional 1,340 students set to join over 47,000 public school students, the Government will invest $54.3 million to ensure local public schools keep getting better as Canberra grows.

I am curious to know how that figure was arrived at, given that the minister has previously told me, through questions on notice, that no data is public and that there are no reports published on enrolment projections. That aside, do we even know where these students are likely to enrol and whether the schools they will attend have the capacity to take them? Clearly this government has no idea how to plan for the future in education, and this minister has no idea how to plan for the future, so no wonder she has no idea how to respond to questions about what the government is doing to address capacity issues in our schools.

Mr Steel refers to support for greater parental engagement, but I am quite sure that the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations, whose budget submission had sought funding, will be hugely disappointed with the one parental engagement officer to work with schools and parent groups to “support parents to help their kids learn”. We have to take on faith that this will be delivered, as it is to be funded from “within existing sources”. This would be great comfort to the council—I think not.

Let us not even get started on the decline of teacher librarians in our government schools, an issue that I know my former colleague and previous shadow education minister, the late Steve Doszpot, was very passionate about. In answers to questions on notice, the minister confirmed that currently only four out of the 10 government schools have a teacher librarian, robbing our children of valuable research skills to lay the foundation for lifelong learning.

Mr Steel’s motion is yet another attempt by the Labor bench to break their arms patting themselves on the back for a job well done. While they are busy doing that, the Canberra Liberals will continue to advocate for the future of our leaders of tomorrow. The focus of education policy must be on preparing our children for the future, where teachers are respected and supported; where parents are partners in their children’s education and have a choice of the very best schools in the country; where students are in a safe, supported and inspiring community to learn and learn how to learn; and where our community will be proud of the world that our children will be custodians of long after we are gone.

Madam Deputy Speaker, education is a big-ticket item in the ACT budget. It sits third, behind health and the public service, and has a budget of more than $1 billion. But, as opposition leader Alistair Coe said this morning, “This government is good at spending money but it is not good at getting value for money.” I strongly support strong investment in our schools, in our students and in the future. But spending more


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