Page 273 - Week 01 - Thursday, 9 December 2004

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Relations) (3.48): I ask for leave of the Assembly to make a ministerial statement concerning my portfolio responsibilities.

Leave granted.

MS GALLAGHER: I thank the Assembly for the opportunity to outline this government’s priorities and to provide to members of this chamber and the ACT community details of the Labor government’s agenda to provide for a fair and prosperous territory.

In my portfolios of education; children, youth and family support, women, and industrial relations the ACT Labor government will be continuing its strong agenda, including guaranteeing fairness and equity in education, improving standards of care for children and young people, developing effective programs to address the disadvantage of women, and implementing a progressive and responsible agenda of landmark industrial relations reform.

The government will work towards these goals, bringing the community with it, and responding to emerging challenges as they arise. As the government outlined in the Canberra plan and in the social plan, it is the task of government in this territory to be the great leveller, to ensure that all share in the community’s wealth and prosperity and that we live as a safe and harmonious community.

On its election, the government committed to an open and accountable government and a strong, reforming policy agenda based on extensive community consultation. The ministerial statements presented by me and my colleagues are a continuation of both those commitments to the people of Canberra. The government has secured the trust of the people of Canberra for a second term, with a historic majority, and we are pleased to outline to this chamber the work which will be progressed in our areas over the next year and into the next four years.

The Canberra plan outlined this government’s direction in education, with a distinct vision shaped through strategic planning. It provided the basis for the election commitments we presented to the people of Canberra and it will provide the basis for our actions. The social plan outlined three important areas for government action in education: increasing literacy and numeracy levels; reducing inequality in the early years of education and improving transitions between home, early childhood settings and kindergarten; and improving transitions between school, further study and the work force. The government will be addressing all these policy areas with new initiatives which will improve the education sector and build greater participation for teachers, parents, children, young people and school communities involved.

The government has outlined its commitment to public education throughout the last term of government. Public education is the cornerstone of any fair and just society. In Canberra we have some of the country’s best schools and teachers and our public education system is the envy of other jurisdictions. Innovations in curriculum are combined with excellent resources and engaged school communities, underpinned by a values system which promotes high achievement for students as well as respect and tolerance for others. This government will maintain our public schools as important community assets and not allow them to be pilloried and attacked for political advantage.

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