Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 2 August 2018) . . Page.. 2654 ..
prospect of putting them on a general commuter bus, to change two or three times and to wait for long periods at bus interchanges, is just not acceptable.
My colleague the shadow minister for transport, Miss Burch, will have more to say on this issue as she continues to highlight the absolute inequity and inadequacy of this government‘s transport policy for the young, the elderly and the infirm. This government talks big about equity, but when you look beyond the shiny buzzwords, it is clear that it does not actually know what real equity in education is.
As I said at the start of my comments, parental choice in education is not a novel or unique concept. It is outlined clearly in the ACT’s own Education Act. It is included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is a part of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. It is vital that parental choice remain a priority in education policy in the ACT; and, under a Canberra Liberals government, it will.
MISS C BURCH (Kurrajong) (3.52): I thank Ms Lee for the opportunity to speak today about the importance of allowing parents to make informed decisions regarding their children‘s education. As Ms Lee has already outlined, the Canberra Liberals are strong supporters of choice. Individual choice and individual freedoms are key values held by the Liberal Party, and this extends to the principle of parental choice in education, because there is nobody who is better placed than parents to decide how and where their children will be educated.
Again, as my colleague Ms Lee has mentioned, a key element of this choice is access. In order to exercise choice parents must have access to their preferred educational options. Each school has its own strengths, and it is for parents to decide which school is the best fit for their children. Many Canberra parents choose to send their children to schools outside their local area. Parents make these decisions due to numerous factors, ranging from where they work, where grandparents or carers may live, the subjects and extracurricular activities offered by different schools and whether they want their children to receive a public, Catholic or independent education. Many parents make these decisions based on the transport options available to get their kids to and from school.
It is this access that is currently under threat by the transport minister and the Labor-Greens government. Under the government’s proposed changes to the bus network due to commence in 2019, the number of dedicated school buses will be cut from more than 100 to only 47. This will mean that 59 Canberra schools will no longer have dedicated school bus services. Surprisingly, our primary schools are being the hardest hit, with 49 primary schools losing all of their dedicated school buses.
In order to make informed decisions about their children’s education, parents need to have confidence that their children will be able to get to and from school quickly and safely. Many trust and rely on school buses to help them do this. When school buses are taken away, it makes it harder for parents to choose these schools. The Labor-Greens government’s savage cuts to school buses takes away that confidence and reduces access. Removing access to school buses removes choice for many Canberra families.