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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 2187 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

The initiative is poorly planned. It does not deliver to those who are most needy. If I live in Mugga Way and have a Rolls Royce in the driveway, I can get free school buses for my children if they are eligible; just as much as I could get free school buses for them if I lived in a government house in Lyons. The initiative is poorly targeted. It does not address genuine need and does not address the great needs of an overwhelming majority of students. For all of those reasons, the Labor Party must do everything it can to ensure that such an initiative does not take effect and that instead we see the money being spent where it should be spent, that is, on services that benefit the great mass of people in the ACT, the great mass of school students and their parents in the ACT.

MR WOOD (3.48): Mr Speaker, the Assembly would do well to examine the education debate in Canberra over the last six years, which is something that the Liberals have not done. They have not switched on to that debate. What are some of the issues that have been raised over that period? What have the parents, teachers and school groups been saying? I suppose the measure of class sizes would be pretty much at the top of that list and some action has been taken and more will be taken, whichever government is in power, on that issue. Perhaps a great deal more could be done.

I recall that there have been reading recovery programs. There have been very strong demands, repeated demands, for more counselling in schools, for more external support for teachers, and for special consideration to be given to children with learning or physical disabilities. Those are the sorts of issues that have been raised, along with the constant and proper theme about the need for high-quality programs in those schools. As Mr Corbell mentioned, it might be more difficult to provide for that since there are now no staff in the central office doing that sort of work. Those are the issues that have been raised, pure educational issues.

There has been one other. It resulted from the change in policy on buses generally when we went to a zone system. There have been complaints about the zone system and the increased cost to parents of that system. Nowhere in that debate have I heard calls for free school buses. Yes, I have heard comments, loud and clear, about going back to a one zone system, but I say again that in that time I have not heard a call for free school buses. The calls have been for activity within the schools. That is where the demand has been; there is no doubt about that.

If this government, or what passes for a government or claims to be a government, had attended to what the community was saying, it would have paid attention to that. If the government had put into effect any of its rhetoric about consultation, it would have gone out to the community. The answer it would have got is that the community wants programs in schools and help for teachers. That is what would have got back to the government.

Mr Moore: And we are doing it all.


: Mr Moore, they would have said to you, "If you have money to burn, put it into the schools. If you could, go back to a one zone bus fare system." There is no question about that: that is what this community would have called for, if asked. That is what the community are now calling for because it is in front of them. They want the $27 million for free buses to go into the sorts of things that have been part of the education debate in Canberra over the last six years. It is about making good policy

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