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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 2061 ..



There is also an assertion that a significant proportion of ISS funds have gone to what are described as high-fee non-government schools. Mr Speaker, ISS funds are allocated on the basis of applications made by individual schools. If high-fee non-government schools have utilised a large proportion of ISS funds, then that is because explicit decisions by the department have been made to this effect.

Mr Speaker, I am not aware of the complete history of the use of ISS funds, but it may very well be that, when ISS funds were first made available, these and schools in the Catholic education system were the only applicants for these funds. We should remember that many of the medium and low-fee schools have been established only in the last 20 years or so, the time in which the ISS was mainly drawn upon. Mr Speaker, I would point out that the Connors report statistical picture asserting that funds mainly go to high-fee schools is severely distorted. It falsely illustrates the projection of allocations over the out years. Why did this happen?

Mr Speaker, there is another aspect of the ISS that I would like to emphasise, and that is the direct impact on the building industry. The ISS supports a range of school building projects. While one school may be between projects, another will be starting a project. This flow of work is important for builders and members of other industries, such as architects and the suppliers of goods and services. The cessation of the ISS is likely to result in a reduction of some order in the flow of work into the local building industry. In fact, it could be argued that the relatively small volume of new ISS funds that becomes available each year translates into a significant positive impact on the local building industry.

Mr Speaker, it concerns me that the government has chosen to ignore the benefit that this scheme provides to non-government schooling in the ACT and has instead decided to take the Connors ideological and emotive response and therefore abolish it altogether. If the government is concerned about government schools competing for enrolments, then it should be looking at strategies to further improve prospects for government schools. We have not seen a single substantive initiative from this government that would examine why the drift away from government schools is occurring, particularly at year 7.

Although we welcome some of the new initiatives for government schools, we have only seen belated tinkerings around the edges. A precious 15 months to review and undertake some key reforms in government schools has been wasted, paralysis and inaction while Connors barked up the wrong tree.

Mr Speaker, the government should be encouraging the success of all schools in the ACT, regardless of the sector to which they belong. The ACT government continues to fail to acknowledge the huge savings it makes because parents of 40 per cent of children choose to send them to non-government schools.

Mr Cornwell

: How many was that?


: 40 per cent.

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