Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2510 ..
MR MOORE (continuing):
contribute back to our society. After all, the education of our youth is indeed an investment in our future, producing the long-term economic returns. When education outlays are reduced there might be short-term cost savings but our future is also being reduced.
Governments that pride themselves on a long-term vision of the future simply cannot cut into education. Over the past five years Commonwealth Government funding of government schools has increased as the State funding has decreased. It is the State government, however, that has the major constitutional responsibility for funding government schools. It is the responsibility of this Government to provide a sound education system to our community. The Chief Minister is well aware of how important it was to reassure her electorate through a promise not to cut education if she was to obtain government. It is now time to deliver. Just as I have supported the Chief Minister in matters of health because I believe that the community made their wishes known at the last election, I must now oppose this concept of cutting education as well.
The other issue we need to deal with is the kind of cultural cringe that comes out of the Grants Commission process, whereby we look at words that are designed specifically to draw comparisons, words such as "benchmarking", where we go to the lowest common denominator. In this case, even in dry economic terms, where we see Canberra as an education industry and the centre of a great education system in Australia, we cannot continue to try to lower ACT education to the lowest common denominator. I believe that the community as a whole is interested in being supportive of education. We ought to get past the stage where we are trying to work out whether we should or should not cut education; rather, we ought to work out by how much we should increase it to ensure the best possible educational outcomes. We can then begin to do a true benchmark up to the areas where we are going to compete, and that includes the other nations in the OECD. The nations I named earlier are all spending far more than we are on education, and if we are going to do genuine benchmarking, if we are going to be able to compete with those nations, if we are going to be able to sell education in Canberra, then we have to have the highest possible standards of education, and that is where we should put our spending.
I have spoken on this issue on many occasions when Labor was in the business of cutting education and now that this Liberal Government is in the business of cutting education. No doubt again Labor will give me the opportunity to support them as a government, but I have not had the experience that they do any better in education than the Liberals. I will continue to do what I can to protect education, and I would draw members' attention to the fact that I have circulated a series of other motions intended to protect education, which I will be seeking to put. No doubt, Mr Speaker, you will have a comment on whether or not they are in order.
MS McRAE (1.48 am): The most appalling thing about all of this is that the Government tried so hard to explain why a cut was not a cut, and it did not succeed. We have heard over and over again that it has been a more than generous budget, that there have been amazingly wonderful allocations, better than anybody has ever seen since the beginning of time; yet there are advisers being moved from the central office, there are teachers being taken out of every secondary college - $1.5m has to be saved from secondary colleges - and there is a range of work that is not being done because there is no money.