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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (28 February) . . Page.. 406 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

New suburbs do not have the same sort of tree canopy and they do not have the same sort of established landscape that older suburbs have, so the extreme summer and winter are all the more extreme, and we cannot simply say, "Well, it's a case for those schools to fund that out of their own budgets." The government needs to take a more sensitive approach to the problems faced by schools in establishing areas.

MR HUMPHRIES ( Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (3.48): Mr Speaker, I just want to indicate that I think there is a problem in this debate in alleging that this ought to be wholly a matter for government as opposed to wholly a matter for schools. I have certainly heard the arguments of the debate about where the line should be drawn, but I believe it is quite reasonable, particularly on the basis of what happens in other parts of Australia, to say that there are certain fundamental elements of an education which need to be supplied on a mandatory basis across the system by government, and other elements which are appropriate matters for discretion within schools.

I understand that that the argument that the heating should be provided by the government is a reasonable proposition, and I understand that that is the position the department of education has taken; that there ought to be provision for heating of all government school classrooms to ensure that during the long months of winter in this territory people have the capacity to be heated appropriately.

By the same token, I think there is also a much weaker case for saying that in the relatively shorter period of extremes of summer, bearing in mind the schools do not operate during most of the summer, there ought to be some more discretion for the school about how it will deal with those issues. We are talking about responsibility. I am a great believer in giving people responsibility and letting them make their own decisions as much as possible. Now, some schools in the ACT have encountered a situation of hot demountable classrooms and they have taken the resources available to them and they have fixed the problem. And I have not heard from any of those opposite in this debate how they will address the reality of some schools already having dealt with this problem by using their available school-based management generated funds to pay for cooling systems in their schools when now the Assembly is expecting, on the basis of the grandstanding which I suspect is only possible during an election year, the government to step in and make a decision in favour of these schools which are screaming the loudest to have cooling systems supplied for them.

I think schools are perfectly capable of assessing these priorities for themselves. And, in particular in the case of the Gordon Primary School, with the resources available to it, I see no reason why it cannot make adequate provision-

Mr Berry: They've got nothing left.

MR HUMPHRIES: Oh, Mr Berry. The school gets one of the largest discretionary grants of any school in the ACT-one of the largest.

Mr Berry: They've got $921 left.

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