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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 2162 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

At first glance, free school bus travel for all students may look good to a lot of Canberra people, and I know that for some parents across Canberra there will be savings on school bus transport. I know that some parents send their children to schools across the other side of Canberra, and I can understand why that might make a difference to how such people vote in the election. But when it comes to education it is the responsibility of government to ensure that above all else there is a viable, comprehensive, public education system in place which delivers a high-quality education for everyone in the community.

Mr Stefaniak: It does.

MS TUCKER: Mr Stefaniak interjects, "It does." Have we got that on the record? Mr Stefaniak says it does. Yesterday in question time Mr Smyth read out a letter. I would like to remind members that the letter that Mr Smyth read out-I will just read the last section-was in support of the free school bus scheme. I am not misrepresenting the letter. This is a person who sent their child to a Catholic school. This person said:

I am quite sick of having people say how "rich" kids benefit from initiatives for things like free school bus travel. I think you should consider this an equity issue.

This is the point; please listen.

You tell me where in my local area (within 2km) the state system offers boys a fair and equitable education with full access to the resource areas that boys need and I'll send them there.

That is what this person said. And do you know what Mr Smyth said of this government? He said:

I could not have put it better myself.

Mr Smyth agrees with this woman that our public system cannot educate boys.

Mr Stefaniak: Don't be dishonest, Kerrie.

MS TUCKER: Mr Stefaniak should have stood up and made a special statement after that question time, saying, "I'm sorry; I do not agree with that. I think our public education system is doing well." He is saying that today. He did not say it yesterday. Or he could have said, "Okay, is there an issue for boys? Maybe we need to look at that." No, that is not what is happening at all. I just could not believe it when I heard that yesterday and heard the silence from the government.

There is another issue here too. I keep hearing from this government how they are trying to target equity and disadvantaged people in our community. They think they have thought about this. This government has thought about targeting disadvantaged. They have told us that many, many times since the budget, so let's have a little look at that.

In the government's new free school bus scheme, which was supposed to provide free school bus travel for a broad cross-section of the community, it appears some of the people who genuinely need free school bus travel for social equity reasons will now have to pay for it. Children who this government has accepted, for equity reasons, warrant free

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