Page 2241 - Week 07 - Thursday, 23 June 2005

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schools; nor is the estimated outcome the best measure of a year on year comparison as it does not include the additional funds provided during the year.

The 2005-06 ACT budget actually provided an increase of 9.4 per cent, or $27.6 million, to government schooling. That is greater than the 8.7 per cent increase that Dr Nelson claims the federal government provided. However, that is taking Dr Nelson at his word regarding the increase in federal funding. The 8.7 per cent by which Dr Nelson claims the federal government has increased funding is merely an estimate of the total funding available under existing funding agreements.

The 2003-04 commonwealth budget papers claimed that the commonwealth would deliver $27.1 million to government schools in the ACT and Dr Nelson issued an identical and equally misleading release at that time too. The actual result was $25.7 million, $1.5 million or more than three percentage points less than he claimed.

If you take into account the fact that the ACT government also provided an increase of $3 million in capital initiatives, the total ACT government funding increase was some 10.4 per cent, or $30.6 million, far above the paltry extra $2.7 million promised by the federal government in the government schools recurrent grants.

Further, while the federal government’s rate of increase in funding may well have been more than that of one state or another, the federal government contributes only some 10 per cent to the cost of public education nationally and only $27 million to schools in the ACT in government schools recurrent grants. From such a pathetically low base, it is easy to have an increased rate of funding, particularly when you are talking in percentage terms.

In comparison, the ACT government contributes some $320 million to schools, almost twelve times the federal government rate, reflecting the Stanhope government’s commitment to ensuring a high-quality education for all students in the territory. If Dr Nelson’s claim of an increase of 8.7 per cent were to occur, the increase would be $80 per student, one-twentieth of the increase provided by the ACT government.

Since coming to office in 2001, ACT government funding of education has increased by $94.1 million, or 27 per cent. We have recognised the central role of teachers in helping students to reach their full potential by delivering substantial pay increases. We have established executive structures in schools and invested in support for beginning teachers. We have embarked on curriculum renewal to ensure that our schools will provide a relevant, challenging and high-quality education now and into the future. We have seen significant growth in the vocational education and training sector, including in identified areas of skills shortage.

The Stanhope government continues to meet the evolving needs of the Canberra community by ensuring that it provides the best education to all our students. We know the importance of education to the individual and the ACT as a whole. Our students would be well served if Dr Nelson gave more attention to the genuine needs of government schools and spent less time on political rhetoric and selective accounting.

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