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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 2079 ..



Mr Pratt calls Ms Connors-how useful and helpful is it to get personal views into this discussion, Mr Pratt?-it is probably better just to look at the figures and argue on them.


(8.50): That was an amazing speech by Ms Tucker. I think that it totally demolished the opposition's argument-

Mr Pratt

: No, it didn't; it just punched a certain ideology.


: Yes, it pretty much did, Mr Pratt. I thank Ms Tucker for those comments. They were very interesting and showed the breadth of experience gained from her years as chair of the education committee.

Mr Speaker, the ACT enjoys a vibrant dual system of education. This government acknowledges that ACT citizens are entitled to, and do, exercise the right to choose non-government school education for their children. The interest subsidy scheme was established in 1978-25 years ago, for those like me who are not quick on maths. I was nine years old at that stage, Mr Speaker. I am sure that you were a little bit older than that, but not much.


: Not really. I have just been listening to speeches for too long. That is how you get to look like I do.


: Is that is where all the hair went, Mr Speaker?

Twenty-five years ago, the ACT was experiencing rapid growth, in particular within the school age cohort. At that time, the area of greatest need of the non-government school sector was to expand its infrastructure. That is no longer the case. Around 80 per cent of existing loans supported by the interest subsidy scheme are for extensions. The major recipients over the next 15 years will be non-government schools that, by any measure, are regarded as well resourced.

The inquiry into ACT education funding was the first for many years. There has not been one which dealt with both sectors since self-government. As part of this independent inquiry, the interest subsidy scheme was assessed and the report recommended that the funds for the interest subsidy scheme be redirected.

Contrary to Mr Pratt's suggestions yesterday in this Assembly, the government did not withhold information about the consideration of the scheme's future throughout the consultations, nor in the budget context. The government is not withdrawing funding from the non-government sector, as has been alleged here tonight. The government will progressively redirect it. The funding will remain within the non-government sector.

Mr Cornwell snorts in derision at that comment but, just because he thinks that it should go to the most affluent schools, that does not mean that that is the way that we think that it should be spent. It should be redirected to those schools in need, Mr Cornwell.

The comment was made earlier by Mr Stefaniak that we will suddenly be stopping the scheme or doing something along those lines. That is absolute rubbish. It is going to peter out over the next 15 years. How can that be a sudden stopping of the scheme? Not at all; we are fulfilling our commitments as far as all existing obligations are concerned.

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