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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (27 November) . . Page.. 4792 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

The bill establishes an appropriate balance between a need to enable potential lifesaving research and the imposition of the oversight and sanctions necessary to ensure ethical research practice. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Smyth ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Education Bill 2003

Ms Gallagher , pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by clerk.

MS GALLAGHER (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (11.02): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am very pleased to table today the Education Bill 2003. The bill has been shaped by extensive community input following our circulation of an exposure draft last year. I really appreciate the time and effort that people were prepared to put into the consultation process and in adding significantly to the bill.

The bill replaces the four existing laws for school education with a single new law based on the shared community expectation that all children should have high-quality education. The new bill incorporates general principles which underlie high-quality education and which are expected to be applied by everyone involved in children's education.

The principles embody a commitment to and an enthusiasm for learning and to the completion of senior secondary education by all students. They recognise the needs of individual students, including the needs of children at risk and students with disabilities, and the need for full parent participation in all aspects of their children's education. The general principles affirm the need for accountability and effective quality assurance in the provision of education for children.

Mr Speaker, the principles of the legislation, as strengthened by this government, guide and direct the objectives of this law which states parent and government responsibilities for children's education and provides for the governance and operation of government schools and the registration of non-government schools and home education. The bill maintains the current provision that education in government schools is to be free and that no fees shall be chargeable for it. It also maintains the current minimum school leaving age of 15.

There is an argument for raising the minimum school leaving age to 16. I would value the community's view about the advantages and disadvantages of doing so. I therefore plan to have discussions on this matter with educational and youth interest groups early in 2004. However, given the extensive period of debate and consultation, we should not hold up the legislation pending discussion of this issue.

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