Page 1374 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 9 May 2006

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the territory. That means, as the Chief Minister alluded, taking some difficult decisions around the continued operation of particular school facilities. I have not shied away from that from the start and have indicated that that would be the approach that the government would need to take. I do welcome those opposite who have come out of the woodwork, so to speak, particularly Mr Pratt all the way back to 2004, who have indicated that this approach is a sensible one in agreeing with the government that this would be a sensible way to proceed.

I have undertaken in this place—and continue to—that we will consult broadly on the future provision of education across the territory. My objective is to see the public education system be as strong as it possibly can be, given the limited resources that are available to any government. We will do the best we possibly can for the parents and for the students and the teachers across the territory in ensuring that public education is as strong as it can possibly be.

MR SESELJA: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Minister, did Mr Costello make recommendations, in his report, about preschool closures, and did he suggest any preschools for the hit list?

MR BARR: I do believe that previous speakers have answered this question. I will not be revealing anything, prior to the budget, in relation to our program for school renewal. We will be undertaking, as I said, a comprehensive program of renewing school infrastructure across the territory and looking at the provision of the best possible student outcomes in our public education system.

Schools—canteen policy

MS PORTER: Mr Speaker, my question, through you, is to the minister for education. Can the minister please inform the Assembly of the government’s canteen policy for schools?

MR BARR: I thank Ms Porter for the question and for her interest in the health and wellbeing of students in the territory. The ACT government has a firm commitment to support the health and wellbeing of all students. Whilst there has been a good deal of media coverage on the importance of good nutrition and concerns about obesity, the ACT has been proactive in this regard for some time. Tackling obesity, poor eating habits and lack of exercise are important issues facing communities across the country.

One of the strategies to support student health is to promote and encourage healthy eating habits in schools. Over recent months, the ACT Department of Education and Training has been working with key organisations and representatives to revise the school canteen policy that assists ACT government schools and their canteen managers. After this extensive consultation, the department released a new policy last week. After final consultation, this policy will be implemented later in the year. The policy will assist ACT schools to take a whole-school approach, where responsibility for encouraging healthy eating habits will rest not just with those that set the menu in the canteen but also with those in the classroom. Contrary to reports in the media, the new policy for government schools does not contain a ban on soft drinks, confectionery and crisps in all government schools from 2009.

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