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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (22 April) . . Page.. 1167 ..

MS CARNELL: Thank you, Mr Speaker. You have to ask why people have not bought tickets here in Canberra whereas when tickets went on sale in Sydney and Melbourne for a similar concert they sold 100,000 tickets very quickly. I think there were up to four concerts in Melbourne. It cannot be that Canberrans are that different. It must be that we are simply not used to having to buy tickets early.

School Closures

MR BERRY: My question is to the Minister for Education. Is the Minister aware that there are several very small private schools in the ACT which receive ACT government and Commonwealth funding? Six of the 24 Catholic primary schools in the ACT had enrolments of under 200 in 1998. Four out of the other 10 private primary schools had enrolments under 70, and two of these were under 40. Thus, about 30 per cent of all private primary schools in the ACT have enrolments under 200 and, like small schools in the public sector, deliver quality education. In comparison, only nine out of 67, or only 13 per cent, of urban government schools had enrolments under 200 in 1998. Why is the Minister encouraging the closure of government schools which are larger than some of the small private schools which receive funding from this Government? Is the Minister planning moves to coerce small private schools to close to bring them into line with his policy for education in the ACT?

MR STEFANIAK: I thank the member for the question, Mr Speaker. I do not know whether he appreciates the difference between the Government's role with the government schools where we have very definite roles under the Schools Authority Act and our role in relation to non-government schools which is defined in the Education Act. It is very different. We have full responsibility for government schools and we have very different and limited responsibilities for non-government schools.

Mr Berry, I think those figures are probably accurate. I am fairly well aware of those and I would accept their accuracy. There are one or two that I might like to check, but I accept the thrust of what you are saying in terms of accuracy. As you are well aware, in the government sector, over the years, there have been some amalgamations. There have been some closures and some changes to schools. In the non-government sector, especially in the Catholic sector, there have been considerable rationalisations as well. They have full responsibility in terms of their school system and it is not for the Government to tell them how to run them and what size school they have. They have to satisfy set criteria, as you should be aware. It is set out in the Education Act, if you are not. As long as they satisfy that, the Government does not have such a significant role as it does in the government sector.

In case you are not aware, Mr Berry, I think about five Catholic schools have ceased operations over a period of about 20 years or so. No doubt you and I could sort out the exact figure. Certainly, there have been a number of closures in that system. I think, most recently, a private school closed at Weston. Another private school took over the site. From time to time you do find changes in that system and also closures. I think there have been examples of amalgamation as well.

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