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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (2 April) . . Page.. 1231 ..

MRS BURKE (continuing):

action of moving funding from one bucket to another is simply not dealing with the real issues, but that seems to be the major point that this government and this report keep making. Are they about giving choices to students and parents? I think not. The government stridently pushes the public school agenda at the risk of downgrading the private school sector. What are we gaining? So does Labor want to severely limit a student's or parent's choice? It would seem so to me.

Mr Speaker, $7.4 million is a lot of money. The schools are waiting for the money but the government is waiting for the schools to give them ideas. Haven't they been out there listening, getting information, informing themselves and making plans about what is needed? No. What have they done in the 17 months since taking office? They have spent some $276,000 to find out what they should have found out while sitting in opposition.

Ms Gallagher: We have spent $19 million.

MRS BURKE: Obviously, Ms Gallagher was not then in her present position. Now in government, they are sitting on their hands.

This inquiry is interesting. It succinctly tells us what we already know, but to me it does nothing to further the cause of innovation and better schooling for all students. I would like to know what Lyndsay Connors is getting at when she talks about a "Needs based model". I was fascinated by the comments at page 90 of the report under the heading "A needs based model". The report states:

The Inquiry is persuaded that, to be effective, public funding to non-government schools should, as far as practicable, be on a needs basis. In other words, priority in public funding should not be directed to schools that have the means to provide education standards in excess of those applying in government schools.

I would say that this is a strange statement.

Mr Cornwell: Made by the sacrifice of the parents.

MRS BURKE: My learned colleague Mr Cornwell makes a very valid point. Has the government asked parents how much they pay out each year in school fees? What is the basis for Lyndsay Connors' statement "schools that have the means to provide education standards in excess of these applying in government schools"?

Page 71 of the report talks about curriculum reform. We have seen this one coming for over 12 months. Mr Speaker, when I was involved in this sector over two years ago I was pushing hard for KLA areas and other things to be looked at. I know that the mechanism is slow, but the government has been in office for over 17 months and I have seen no energetic moves to address this area. This is not rocket science, as we say. Did we need an inquiry to tell us we must keep up with modern advancements? I think not.

Transition from school to work, vocational education sooner than year 11-all these are issues that we know about. Vocational education and training is an extremely important area. We needed a report that dealt more fully with how we are going to better prepare young people for the transition from school to the workplace-seamless or smooth transition or pathways, whichever you want to call them.

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