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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (14 June) . . Page.. 1774 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, although I support the motion I was considering moving an amendment to perhaps soften it. I was considering amending part (1) by replacing the words "because it will lead" with "that are likely to lead". But that does not solve the problem because when you look at part (3) you can see that the simple capacity to create league tables means they can be interpreted by people in a way that might be detrimental to the school that their child goes to.

Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I will be supporting the motion because I think that league tables are not appropriate in our city and schools.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services) (5.25): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, in the 12 years that I have been in this place, there have been very rare occasions that I have disagreed with the P&C Council, but on this particular issue I do disagree with them. There are a series of principles that we are dealing with here. It is interesting the number of times Mr Berry has pointed his finger across the chamber and talked about secrecy and openness of information, and the same applies to almost every member in this chamber. At some stage he said that the government should be open with information. "You've got information; make it available. The public can handle it. The public can make up their own mind. They can decide what they do and what they do not do with this information"-particularly the Canberra community.

In regard to putting out a very simplistic league table, though, I have to say that I agree with members. A simplistic league table that just ranks schools from one to 100 is extraordinarily limited. It does not provide the sort of information that anybody is particularly interested in other than in a very simplistic way, and it would be damaging. That information, to the best of my knowledge, does not exist, and I do not see any use for it.

Mr Stefaniak mentioned that the cabinet has seen-it is cabinet-in-confidence-a set of data that looks at each of those years, year 3, year 5, year 7 and year 9, where the testing has been done and that has been graphed across schools. There is nothing tricky about that information. That information is then compared against not only the territory but also the Australian average. As I recall, there was some information on how we compared nationally as well, and we do very well.

As for those who advocate open government, I have questioned them on why they would want to keep it secret. The argument Mr Berry has put is that you keep it secret to protect schools that are doing a bit more poorly than others. I have to say, "On the contrary. Why shouldn't parents know that and be able to put pressure on the government and say, 'What's going on with our school that it's doing more poorly? Is it the socioeconomic circumstances in which we live and, if that is the case, why aren't you putting more funds into our school? What have you, as a government, done about correcting that?'"

If it is a school where the socioeconomic circumstances suggest that you should be at this level and in fact you are way out of kilter with all the other schools at that level, one ought to say, "Well, is this good?" "Is this bad?" I think that is a reasonable thing to ask. If you consider that league table-if we want to put that language on it-terrible, I cannot understand why.

Ms Tucker, you have said again and again in this place that, if we have got information, we ought to put it in the open and allow people to make their own decisions. It is what we do with the hospitals. Again and again I table information. At almost every sitting I am tabling information about the people waiting: who is waiting, how long they have been waiting, the number of people on waiting lists, and so on. What are we frightened of in our school system? I can understand why a union

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