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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 November 2021) . . Page.. 3483 ..

Before returning to my prepared remarks, I feel compelled to correct the record on a few assertions made in Mr Hanson’s presentation. While I trust the Canberra electorate to know that I speak on behalf of myself and that we, the ACT Greens, speak on behalf of ourselves, I think they know better than to trust Mr Hanson’s articulation of what we have said or not said in this place.

I am aware—as a former public school student, as a long-term campaigner for the equitable funding and resourcing of ACT public schools, as a long-term associate member of the Australian Education Union ACT branch and as somebody who has been motivated into political activism and electoral politics by a passion for better public schools—that things are not perfect. But this budget goes a long way to addressing a number of specific concerns that have been raised by parents, students and teachers over the course of the last few years.

The glossy blue document that Mr Hanson repeatedly referred to in his presentation, which was produced earlier in the year, was essentially a compilation mixtape of other people’s work that was very happy to define the education system as being in crisis without a definitive or specific play for how best to address that crisis. I was much more interested in engaging with the government from the crossbench and through my colleagues in the executive to fund specific programs and initiatives that we know will have a tangible beneficial effect in improving our public schools here in the ACT, as a direct response to what parents, teachers and students have actively lobbied for. The document was not a root and branch external review on Canberra Liberals’ talking points, as Mr Hanson would propose—only a political quest, on the taxpayer’s dime, to find ammunition which the Canberra Liberals could use to beat the government up with over the course of the next few years.

We are focused on very specific programs and very specific investments that respond to community concerns. One such investment that I am particularly proud to see supported throughout this budget is the teacher shortage task force. You would know better than anyone else, Mr Assistant Speaker, as an observer of what I say and do in this place, that I am not usually a fan of having a task force for a task force’s sake. I am not usually a fan of a taxpayer-funded morning tea to flesh out an issue without a definitive plan for what could happen.

But, as opposed to the Canberra Liberals’ alternative plan, a root and branch review of the education system without any end in sight, this very specifically addresses what is arguably the number one issue in our public school system, not just here in the ACT but across the entire country.

Opposition members interjecting

MR DAVIS: Before I find myself answering interjections by the Canberra Liberals—who will no doubt say that I get a bit upset when I point out that these things and these challenges exist outside the ACT borders—let me say that I accept that the government has a responsibility to address these issues from within its own directorate. That is why the minister has responded to the calls from the Australian Education Union to stand up a specific teacher shortage task force to look into that

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