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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (28 February) . . Page.. 369 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

I commend the minister for attending that rally in quite hostile circumstances and trust that he appreciated the passion and strength of their arguments.

The amendment that I have moved to Mr Berry's motion calls on the government to do two things: firstly, to install adequate temperature control equipment in the temporary classrooms that are already in use; and, secondly, to ensure that such equipment is fitted into any new temporary classrooms in the future before they are open for use. Some mention has been made of the costs, and I accept that there will be costs. However, having temporary classrooms saves government a significant amount of money every year. It makes good economic sense to avoid building a permanent structure that one day, by all accounts, will be empty; but such savings should not be achieved by placing the health of young children and teachers in jeopardy.

I have spoken with parents and children who have suffered severe heat stress in those classrooms. This situation should not have been allowed to happen. I believe, as I think the majority of members of this place believe, that it is the government's responsibility. I call on the government and the minister to accept that responsibility and put things right.

MR KAINE (11.49): I support Mr Berry's motion on this matter. I am not certain about Mr Osborne's amendment, because it tends to narrow down the focus and the intent. We know that there is currently some concern about temporary classrooms, but I think that this is a much broader issue than just the few temporary classrooms that are currently in question. Either you accept the argument that the government has a responsibility to provide facilities for children to go through primary and secondary school, and even college, in an atmosphere where they can do what they are there to do, that is, to learn, or you reject that philosophy.

If you accept the philosophy that the children have a responsibility and a right to spend approximately 12 years of their lives in our schools to earn a living and to be good citizens, then it follows that the government has a responsibility to ensure that those facilities are properly equipped to allow those objectives to be achieved. What we are seeing now is a reflection of the philosophy of not so very many years ago, in the early days of delegated management, whereby the schools were told that if they wanted school equipment, such as duplicating machines, photocopiers and the like, they had to find the funds to buy it.

I argued at the time that if a school needs that sort of equipment to provide all of the facilities that the children need to get a good education, the minister has a responsibility to provide it. The government should not be saying to the principals or to the P&Cs that they should find the money somewhere else to put photocopiers, duplicating machines and the like into schools. Either you accept a standard that that sort of equipment is essential or you do not. If you do not, every school is going to suffer. But if you accept that it is needed, the government has a responsibility to set the standard and provide the equipment so that the children and the teachers have available to them all the equipment that is needed.

What we have got here is an extension of the philosophy that the government was putting forward five or six years ago that it is up to the school principal, the P&C or somebody else to find the money for this sort of equipment. They seem to be saying now that,

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