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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (14 June) . . Page.. 1785 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

According to Mr Stanhope, that is already happening, and it is happening because rumour and innuendo are being allowed to rule instead of our being allowed to say where these schools have strengths, where they have weaknesses and what we will do as a community to help them make up for their weaknesses and build on their strengths. What is it they are afraid of?

The third paragraph of Mr Berry's motion is:

calls on the Government to abandon its proposals to report school results and to engage in further consultations with stakeholders ...

But we are engaging with stakeholders; we do talk to them. We did a survey to find out how effective they thought this was, and the overall result, which the Labor Party just ignore, that 76 per cent of parents surveyed thought the data was useful and they would like to have it indicates how out of touch the opposition are.

We have been out there listening to the community on this. We have been talking to them, we have done the surveys and we have looked at what the community has said to us. I do not think those opposite have even read the report. If they have they simply choose to ignore it, as they always do, because it does not support their case. And they are very good at that. When data is put before them that does not support what they want, it is flawed or we got the process wrong.

Here is a process that is working well. Here is a process that is helping us to address some of the inequities in education. Here is a process that allows us to help build up education in some schools where it has not been so good as in others. Why? Because we had the data. Why? Because we have got the wherewithal to do it. Why? Because this government has increased education funding every year-independently audited by KPMG. This government has honoured its commitment to give education a high priority and has put more money into education every year, unlike those opposite.

We have been able to do so because we have recovered from the $344 million debt they left us. Our priority is education and health, and that is where we are putting the money. When we put that money in and find out where the systems are falling down, we can fix it. That is what we are doing. We are working on that very hard, and we will continue to work on it. Why? Because it is important. Why? Because the community told us that is what they want. Why do we know that? Because we are out there listening, unlike those opposite with their blinkers on and their hearing aids turned off who do not want to hear what the community say on this.

Go and look at the results; go and look at the data. The community is overwhelmingly in support of having this information available so that they can make their own judgments. Surely we trust the public to make their own judgments based on data presented to them.

MR BERRY (6.05), in reply: There are none so blind as those who will not see, and I think that applies to Mr Smyth's effort. Mr Smyth was the interjector who said earlier in this debate, "If they want to leave their schools, we'll give them free school buses to go to another one." That is the ideology that worries us-

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