Page 3388 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 20 September 2005

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can say that this government is allowing public education in the ACT to go backwards defies logic.

When the Stanhope government came to office, the ACT education system was suffering from years of neglect and underfunding; maintenance of infrastructure had long been abandoned; and teachers were paid ridiculously low salaries. Yes, for sure, it was going backwards. And now we can stand in this place and reflect on some of the most talented and best-paid teachers in the country, students who are ranked among the most talented in the world, and the fulfilment of an $8.3 million Stanhope election commitment to improve the state of the ACT school infrastructure.

We can do this because successive Stanhope governments have recognised the need to invest in our future and the future of our children. We have invested heavily in school infrastructure and curriculum innovation, and we have committed to the long-term success of ACT students.

Every Canberran is a stakeholder in the future of our territory. Accordingly, we all have a responsibility to invest in the future of our young people. The ACT government and teachers across the territory have committed to fulfilling this responsibility. It is about time those opposite did the same.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (4.44): What a load of nonsense that was in the prepared speech by Ms Porter. I will have her know that the ACT education system, which does have some problems, which Mrs Dunne and you, Mr Deputy Speaker, have highlighted today, is fundamentally a sound system and was certainly left in a fundamentally sound state by the previous government.

I will clarify one matter the Chief Minister raised in his rant, and that related to Charnwood high school. Unlike at Ginninderra district high school, where community consultation occurred after the decision was made, Charnwood high school did go through a consultation process. There were a number of alternatives suggested there. I remember that at the time I hoped they would pick the twinning arrangement with Melba, which was one of the options they looked at. They did not; they opted to have the students go, largely, in the end, to Ginninderra district high, although some went to Melba. Far from not being assisted, they were provided with, I recall, about two years travel assistance and other measures to ensure that their relocation was as smooth as possible. It is important for you guys to get your facts right.

I was disturbed recently to see the P & C lament that fact that about $100 million worth of maintenance needs to be spent on our schools. Yes, Ms Porter, some of that might go back to the previous government. But you lot have been in now for some four years. This is, in fact, the second Stanhope government and you cannot hide behind things that may or may not have occurred in the dim and distant past; you have to take responsibility now for your own actions. It is disturbing to hear such reports from the P & C in terms of some of the physical problems our schools suffer.

Ginninderra district high, which, I do recall, got a revamp in about 1997-98 as a result of a joint venture we took with the commonwealth, has appeared to me, in the times I have gone there in the past couple of months for those two public meetings, to have a very

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