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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (28 February) . . Page.. 405 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

None of these schools' funding has been increased to cover such expenses; we are funded at the same rate as other primary schools in the Territory.

We are aware that it is a convention of your Department that capital works costing above $5 000 have been funded traditionally by the Department rather than coming from schools' budgets. We feel that the Department should be supporting the education of our children, hence we find the Minister's comments about using educational funding for cooling systems to be totally inappropriate.

I seek leave to table that letter.

Leave granted.

MS TUCKER: Thank you. I present the following paper:

Gordon Primary School-Airconditioning for portable buildings-Copy of letter from Gordon Primary School Board to Mr Bill Stefaniak, Minister for Education, dated 26 February 2000.

It makes the point that each school is going to have a different situation, and so I repeat my concern that the government has not taken a more careful look at how it is dealing with this issue. I was interested also in the statement from Mrs Burke. I think it would be interesting for her to look at the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Children have the right to express political views just as adults have, and we should be supporting that.

MR CORBELL (3.45): Mr Speaker, I would quickly like to speak in this debate prior to Mr Berry closing it. The point I would like to make in relation to this particular issue is the one that Ms Tucker raised earlier, and that relates to the small number of schools that are affected by heat and variations in temperature in transportable classrooms.

It is true that only a small number of schools are affected by this. But it is important to make the point that these schools are predominantly in growing areas of the city where the use of transportables is adopted as a cheaper form of infrastructure provision, and, I have to say on balance, a more efficient use of infrastructure than building schools that are going to get too large and then be redundant once the population boom has eased.

That said, we are going to see an increasing use of transportables for primary schools in the new area of Gungahlin in the next number of years. Indeed, I have recently debated the issue of transportables at the Nicholls Gold Greek Junior site, and that clearly is an instance where we are going to see the school population increase by over 100 within the next 12 months if the demographic projections are correct.

So there is no doubt that this situation will not be faced just on the south side; it will also be faced on the north side, increasingly at schools in the Gungahlin area. So we need to address this issue in a more deliberate way than it has been to date, and we need to recognise that the areas where this demand is occurring, in newer suburbs, are also the areas that are often more subject to the extremes of summer and winter than established suburbs.

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