Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 2062 ..
Mr Speaker, according to federal government estimates, government will save a total of $28.5 million next year alone thanks to the ACT parents who have decided to pay to privately educate their kids. That is $28.5 million which makes it possible for us to enjoy the education system we have in the ACT today. An annual amount of a few hundred thousand dollars provided through the interest subsidy scheme seems to be a small cost to ensure the stability of the government sector, as well as the non-government sector.
Ms Gallagher stated in a media statement that she issued in May that, "It was not sound public funding policy to use scarce funds to subsidise non-government schools when the main recipients are schools which are generally regarded as well-resourced."Now, Mr Speaker, this statement implies that the government's new policy is to punish those schools which have invested the funding they have received wisely in their school's infrastructure, so as to benefit their students now and in the future. The scarce funds that Ms Gallagher refers to amount to just about as much as her government is prepared to spend on reports in any given year-not sound public funding policy, Mr Speaker.
By removing the ISS, the government is seeking to bring back a class system so that only those who can afford a ridiculously high fee structure will be able to access private schooling. All other Canberrans will have no choice but to send their kids to government schools because, under a Labor government, private schooling will eventually become completely unaffordable for the average Canberra citizen. Mr Speaker, the removal of the interest subsidy scheme is not a sound public funding decision and I urge the Assembly to call for a reversal of this decision.
MS GALLAGHER(Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (7.45): The ACT government will not be supporting this motion by Mr Pratt, which I am sure will come as a great surprise to everyone. However, I do have to acknowledge the persistence of Mr Pratt on this issue. From my recollection we have trawled over it through estimates, we have had questions without notice, and we have questions on notice about it, all seeking the same thing, and now we have a motion before the Assembly.
I want to address a couple of things that Mr Pratt said in his speech about how the ACT government, outside of the interest subsidy scheme, offers no capital support to the non-government sector. It is rather interesting-we have provided in land grants in excess of $20 million free of charge, based on the value of the land at the time of the grant, which is a considerable contribution, I would imagine, to those schools' establishment costs. As I said, that was the value of the land at the time of the land grants so, for some of those schools sitting in very central positions, I imagine the value of the land that they are on now has increased markedly.
Mr Pratt also quotes from the MCEETYA document Resourcing the national goals for schooling, which of course the Commonwealth did not sign because it was worried that might mean it would have to give a little bit more money to government schooling-
Mr Pratt: With 24 hours notice they could not sign it but they will. They will sign it.
MS GALLAGHER: You quote rather selectively from it, Mr Pratt, but this is the states' agreement, not the Commonwealth's. They do not like it. Your mob do not like it.