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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 2081 ..



scheme is inherently inequitable. It favours those schools most able to service large capital debts. That is demonstrated by the list of approved applications under the scheme in the Connors report.

Since all schools will benefit from the redirected funding, which they will receive according to their need, each school can decide how best to use the additional funds. If extending the school's facilities is the priority for a particular school, no doubt the additional funding will be used for that purpose. It is up to the school to make that decision at the time, if that is the way in which it wishes to use its funds.

Governments must make funding decisions in the best interest of the community and those decisions must be based on the principle of relative need-relative need, not, "Let's provide individual air-conditioning to the boys at grammar. We would like to have that money so that we can spend it on those things."It is not about establishing needed learning facilities; the scheme is being used to provide for the add-ons.

This principle underpins the effective use of public funds. Not surprisingly, it also underpins the framework of principles for funding schools which was endorsed by all states and territories last year. (Extension of time granted.) Our decision to close the scheme and redirect its funds to the benefit of all non-government schools is equitable and sound policy. The schools can then decide the purpose to which the funds will be put.

Mr Stefaniak spoke earlier about all schools in the non-government sector having been advantaged by the interest subsidy scheme. I think that it is wrong to say that, Mr Speaker. They have not, because the money has not been available, as I said. The fact is that any schools that may wish to establish themselves in the future will not necessarily benefit from the interest subsidy scheme because there would not be enough money available for them to establish themselves; they would need to go and get a loan. It is mainly the larger schools that can afford to service large capital funds.

The idea, as Mr Pratt has put it, that the abolition of this scheme would jeopardise the existence of non-government schools is just laughable. Mrs Burke put up some sort of argument about smoke and mirrors in regard to Mr Corbell's-

Mrs Burke

: You said that you will redirect the money. That's what I'm saying; I'm agreeing with you.


: No, Mrs Burke, you were saying that the situation was all smoke and mirrors as far as the figures were concerned. We are still waiting for your argument as to how it is one of smoke and mirrors as the figures are there for all to see and have not been disputed. You did not dispute the fact that $5 million is going to boys grammar and less than $21/2 million is going to 27 Catholic systemic schools. Less than $21/2 million is going to the Catholic education system, which has 27 schools.

As to Mr Cornwell's comment about the politics of envy: I do not believe it to be the politics of envy to look at properly spending public funds, which is what we are doing. We are looking at spending public funds properly and equitably.

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