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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 June 2021) . . Page.. 1981 ..


in this city and country are able to access. As an advocate for public education, I live and breathe this sentiment.

I am not convinced that Mr Hanson’s motion would achieve that. I am equally not convinced that the Canberra Liberals’ discussion paper, upon which this motion is based, has any serious academic or policy contribution to make. It is all sizzle and no sausage.

To be honest, I was enthusiastic when the Canberra Liberals dropped this glossy document on us last week while I was at a conference in Adelaide. After reading it, I was disappointed, although not surprised, to find that it is simply full of motherhood statements; is overly reliant on data from NAPLAN, which we know is a flawed testing system; and uses a variety of quotes from the Canberra Times and Liberal buddies at the Australian as if they are academic peer-reviewed sources. This report is not academically rigorous despite the problematic posturing within it.

If the Liberals are suddenly so interested in supporting our public education system, I encourage my colleagues in the Liberal Party to focus their efforts and attention on the most significant source of inequality in our education system, the inequitable federal government funding of privately owned and run schools. With public money, public schools should come first. For too long, Liberal governments in this country have given private schools billions in extra funding while leaving public schools underfunded and desperate for resources. The obscene wealth of private schools in this country has been allowed—no, fostered—to grow under conservative governments in this country. Between them, the country’s top 50 private schools are worth $8.5 billion and counting. These schools are set to receive an additional $20 billion more in federal money than public schools over the next four years.

Without significant injections of funding into our public school system from our federal counterparts, public schools, and the state and territory governments that run them, will find it painful to make the systemic reforms that we know need to occur. We have the plans; we know what works; we need increased investment locally and nationally to ensure that the plans we have have come from significant consultation and review and can be implemented wholeheartedly.

While it would be remiss of us to deny that a function as fundamental to our society as our education system does not require ongoing critical engagement and review, Mr Hanson’s motion casts aside the significant community and school-led reviews that have recently been undertaken and that are currently in the process of being implemented.

They include the ongoing inquiry into school infrastructure, which has received 23 submissions from a range of impacted stakeholders, including teachers, P&Cs, disability advocacy organisations, and schools. I have been in contact with the Australian Education Union and the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Association this week to talk through the motion on the notice paper. These organisations have expressed to me their desire for the implementation of the recommendations from inquiries that have already occurred and are outlined in the amendments to the motion, and for the proper resourcing of the Future of Education strategy, rather than the


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