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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 June 2021) . . Page.. 1986 ..

that they do to make ACT public schools some of the best in the world. The ACT government will always back you in.

MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (4.23): I am not surprised by the minister’s comments and her failure to support my motion today; it was entirely predictable. It is disappointing. Regardless of that, I hope we can find common ground.

I intend to be a tireless advocate for government schools, for government education, regardless of the attempt to characterise the Canberra Liberals in a certain way. We are big fans of government schools, government education. We will do everything we can to make sure that they prosper in the ACT. We will do everything we can to support the people at the front line: the teachers, principals and other staff. The lead question in question time today followed up on concerns that had been raised in the Australian Education Union’s budget submission about the lack of staff and the implications of that.

I am not looking for an ideological fight; I am looking for the evidence. There are things that I do not agree with. For example, I do not agree with the union about school autonomy. That needs to be looked at again; there are issues with it. I do not suggest that NAPLAN is the perfect solution, but we do need a testing regime to provide the evidence, to provide the information that we need. A review of NAPLAN was conducted recently on behalf of the ACT, New South Wales and a couple of other jurisdictions. It recommended some modifications but broadly endorsed the NAPLAN system.

I have been very careful to make sure that the criticisms I have raised today in the Assembly are referenced and are not baseless assertions. They come from the ACT Auditor-General, inquiries conducted by committees of this place, the Grattan Institute, the ANU, Victoria University and the Australian Education Union. I quoted those in my speech, as I did with parents. And I have heard from teachers.

My political opponents—such as Mr Davis—were trying to characterise my motion as some sort of conservative conspiracy. This is not a conservative conspiracy of any sort. Look at who was quoted in the paper: the Grattan Institute, the Auditor-General, the Australian National University, the Australian Education Union. There is a pretty broad base of people there who are engaged in education and either would be entirely neutral in the debate or would not be seen as allies, generally speaking, of the Liberal Party. I have been cautious to make sure that there is a balanced view.

I think that the minister would accept that the government school system is not perfect. There is work to be done. She cited a whole range of reviews. A coordinated non-ideological expert review that could draw on all the work that has been done—I have acknowledged that; I have quoted extensively from it—would benefit the system. It would benefit the teachers at the front line and, most importantly, the children in our school system who we all want to see achieve their best.

That is what this debate is about. We will continue to have it, Madam Speaker. We will agree on things and we will disagree on things, but having this debate is important.

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