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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (9 April) . . Page.. 821 ..

MS DUNDAS: I have a supplementary question. Minister, considering that your initial answer to my question was to say, "Heaven forbid that we break an election promise"-I will take that as a commitment to the election promise that you did make in terms of gays and lesbians in the ACT and the queer community of the ACT-will you inform the Assembly of a proposed timeframe to implement these long overdue reforms?

MR STANHOPE: As we progress these proposals, I will certainly keep the Assembly fully informed.

Education funding inquiry

MS MacDONALD: My question is to the minister for education. In March the opposition spokesperson on education made some comments about the recently announced head of the education funding inquiry, Ms Lyndsay Connors. The Canberra Times of 21 March reported:

... Steve Pratt said Ms Connors was a "committed Government-sector person," and thus an inappropriate choice to head the inquiry ... he wondered whether "decisions had already been made" about funding levels for government and non-government schools.

Will the minister explain why he has appointed Ms Connors to head this inquiry?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms MacDonald for the question. I am still dismayed by the comments made by the shadow minister for education on this matter-dismayed because Ms Connors is without a doubt one of the most significant figures in education policy-making in the country. Ms Connors is very well respected in education circles. She started as a teacher in the ACT system in the 1970s and was a member of the ACT Schools Authority in the 1980s, so she has very clear knowledge of the philosophy and the foundations of the system here in the ACT. She has that to her credit.

She is currently an adjunct professor in the faculty of education at the University of Sydney, again a position I think anyone in this place would consider to be of significant standing. Her most recent appointment was as chair of a ministerial working party for review of the Victorian Department of Education, Employment and Training. That working party's report, Public Education: the Next Generation, was published in late 2000.

Ms Connors has considerable experience in the Commonwealth education sector. She was a member of the Commonwealth Schools Commission in the mid-1980s. You could not find somebody who has a broader range of experience than Ms Connors. She has indicated both to me and to other people in the sector that she treats her role extremely seriously. She understands that she needs to speak to all of the sectors in the ACT education community. She will be seeking to meet with, and speak to, a broad representative sample of public schools, and she has indicated to me that she will be seeking to meet and talk with every non-government school in the territory. That is a significant commitment from this inquiry head.

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