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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (28 February) . . Page.. 375 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

expenditure of many millions of dollars on things that are simply not necessary. That money would be better spent on other educational outcomes.

We have operated in the way we have in this territory for many years and have done so very successfully. We now have a situation which has developed over the last two years largely as a result of just one school having a beef over something which it wants the department to fund. I am mindful of the need to do what I can realistically to help the school, and I will do so. But we also have a very good system of school-based management which has been working exceptionally well in our schools and which, if this motion was taken to its logical extreme, would be overturned. I do not necessarily think that that would be in anyone's real interest.

MRS BURKE (12.11): Mr Speaker, I must say that I was saddened and appalled to see schoolchildren being drawn into this matter and used in such a blatantly political way. We all saw them when they appeared on the television news reports in Canberra last Friday. Mr Berry and Mr Osborne were evidently parading in front of the cameras with a backdrop of approximately 15 children and some parents, complaining about alleged high temperatures at one school in Canberra.

I note that there are over 200 children in demountable classrooms at Gordon Primary School. What level of support is there within the entire community for this protest action? I congratulate those parents who refused to allow their children to be used as political footballs. I am saddened to know that Mr Berry and Mr Osborne support such activities involving our children. I believe that it is inappropriate and unacceptable.

I saw mothers rabble-rousing the children and heckling the minister on an issue which has been raised by no other school in Canberra. We have almost 100 schools in Canberra. About 125 classes are conducted in demountable buildings at those schools, as we have just heard. A further 12 preschools also use demountables. Is it not odd, Mr Speaker, that only one school and one other individual have raised this issue about temperatures this summer? Isn't it odd also that Theodore Primary School and Stromlo school have provided airconditioning in specific demountable classes from their own school-based management funding?

I have been advised that Hall Primary School has spent around $34,000 of its school-based management money over time on airconditioning. What this says to me, Mr Speaker, is that the whole issue of temperature management in our schools is one which should be handled and has been up to now within the school and its broader community. Schools receive substantial funding-all up it is about $27 million annually-to make arrangements and management decisions about the needs of the students and staff and the physical infrastructure of their schools.

In fact, Mr Speaker, a parent of a student at Gordon primary refused to allow his child to attend on the day-he kept the child at home-and added that most parents realise that issues like this were for the whole of the school community to approach and many parents worked hard to raise funds for things other than direct education for their children. Indeed, school boards comprising principals, staff, parents, representatives and community members are tasked with making these kinds of decisions. They have access to expert advice from the Department of Education and Community Services, particularly when it comes to technical matters such as information technology, building

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