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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 2067 ..



are going to change too much. It does not look like they are going to drop: it looks like they may well stay around that figure. All the more reason, then, for this government not to go down the path of getting rid of this scheme, which is so important to our non-government sector.

I heard a previous Labor education minister claim-and he probably was what he claimed; Bill Wood, yes, that's you, son-"I am the minister for education and that is all sectors, government and non-government."He said it and I think he probably meant it. I do not think he suggested doing anything as silly as this when he was minister. Well, he might have had a few silly ideas really, but I certainly do not think he ever suggested anything like this.

I always thought what he said was eminently sensible and I have probably said that myself-"I am the minister for education for all sectors, government and non-government,"and you really have to be. Primarily, of course, your responsibility is to run the government sector because your control over the non-government sector is not the same. It is a very different sector: there are other players there, the Commonwealth is a much more significant player there than it is in assistance to the government sector.

Of course, the schools are very much masters of their own destiny within the constraints and demands on curriculum and standardisation and so on, and the loose controls that a government may have over them. However, it is important to be sensible, to be fair and to give due regard to both sectors, because you have a responsibility as the government of the territory to do what you can in the best interests of all students in the territory. Your responsibility is to the government sector, but it is also to the non-government sector.

Taking away a scheme as sensible as this, which will not save you very much money but which will have an adverse effect, I would think, on sensible improvements to some of these schools, is not only very bad politics, but it does nothing to help education in the territory. Far from it: it is a real detriment to the education of our students and possibly our standards. It certainly does nothing to help but it probably does quite a bit to hinder.

You have obviously made up your minds to do it. I think you will rue the day you did. You have made a wrong decision here, and I think it is important for the Assembly to try to inject some common sense into this matter, even at this late hour.


(Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (8.03): I rise to support my colleague Ms Gallagher, the education minister, on this issue. Mr Speaker, from listening to the contributions to the debate from the other side of the chamber, anyone would think the government was actually reducing the total amount of funding available to non-government schools, but the reality is, we are not. You are wrong. The government is not reducing funding to non-government schools, not one cent, but what we are doing is saying that the application of money in this way is grossly inequitable and does not address need in the system.

Let us just recap on exactly why it is grossly inequitable. Over the next 15 years-so this is money yet to be spent, but which is committed by the territory through the existing interest subsidy scheme-between 2002-03 and 2018-19, the following schools will receive the following amounts of subsidy from the taxpayers of the territory: Canberra

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