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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 2173 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

Mrs Burke asked what has been achieved. Let us look at some of the achievements. We introduced literacy and numeracy testing for years 3, 5, 7 and 9. That is precisely what parents want. The results have been good. To cater for the 60 per cent or so of students who do not go to university, we changed the emphasis in our high schools and colleges by putting a renewed emphasis on vocational education and training. I am delighted to see that we have gone from about 300 or 400 kids in years 11 and 12 doing vocational education courses in 1995 to over 50 per cent of all students in both government and non-government schools in years 11 and 12 now doing those courses.

We provided a $20 million package of information technology, including computers for teachers-I think that was a first in the country-IT grants for schools and software access for schools. These measures are continuing in the new budget the Treasurer has brought down.

We committed $1 million over three years for a renewal program called High Schools for the New Millennium. We introduced IT competencies for year 10 students. We set up a range of new programs such as high school support centres to address the needs of students at risk, new initiatives for students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, new programs in relation to children with various other disabilities. We provided substantial increases to the non-government sector, including $600,000 per annum for students with disabilities, and $1.6 million per annum in general per capita grants.

I could go on and on, but I know Mr Speaker likes people to be concise. That is a thumbnail sketch of what this government has done.

Mr Stanhope: It is $27 million short of what we will do.

MR STEFANIAK: These people come off a base of zippo-zero. In fact, they are the only government which has tried to cut education expenditure. I do not think people can have too much confidence in what might happen after 20 October should they move over here to the treasury bench.

MRS BURKE: I ask a supplementary question. I thank the minister for that response. Given that I am the new kid on the block, I like to know the background to these things.

MR SPEAKER: Order! No preamble, please.

MRS BURKE: Has the government put forward more initiatives for the future to build on these impressive achievements, Minister?

MR STEFANIAK: It has indeed, Mrs Burke. I think you were here during the debate earlier. We have not rested on our laurels. We have outlined a range of new initiative on which even those opposite acknowledge we will spend an extra $40 million over the next few years-important programs such as lowering class sizes for the early childhood years of schooling in government schools. I am going to table an AEU newsletter stating that that set a benchmark for everyone, a benchmark that all parties in this Assembly are trying to catch up on now. Other programs include:

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