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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 4 March 2008) . . Page.. 444 ..

Finally, I refer to the airport issue, which was raised a moment ago. We have actually lost control of our planning, with the airport no longer even being subject to the National Capital Authority’s oversight. It is only through occasional good nature that the airport owners do conform with the national capital plan. They do not have to do so. We have seen the way it has sucked development out to the east of Canberra and it has created a whole transport and traffic nightmare. It has provided office buildings which were never in the minds of our planners. It is outside our control. The ACT government does have to lobby very hard to bring the airport back into our ambit and to work with the airport owners for the best outcomes for Canberra people. That is what the airport should do. I will not even go into the issue of a curfew.

We do have real challenges ahead of us. It is not just a matter of “business as usual” anymore. It is not a matter of saying, “Okay, maybe not this development but maybe the next one.” It is not good enough if Crace is just like Forde. Forde is not good enough. Houses are not able to be oriented for solar maximisation. Indeed, there are some hard decisions to be made, but planning is the essence of Canberra, and that is why it is essential that we look at our resources. Every time we close a school, we must think about how that affects the social and the environmental amenity, as well as the greenhouse impacts and the way it forces people to move around our city. These things are really important and they will be what our city is judged by in 2050.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Planning, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, Minister for Industrial Relations) (4.52): I thank Mr Gentleman for raising this matter and previous speakers for their contributions. It is fair to say that, in planning for our city’s future, we have a responsibility to ensure that future Canberrans have access to the best possible array of government services. Most particularly, in the area of education, we have a responsibility to ensure that future students in the ACT can access world-class education choices and opportunities, no matter what background or socioeconomic status they have. Since coming to office in 2001, the Stanhope government has increased our investment in education by over 30 per cent and has undertaken a series of important reforms to prioritise the quality of our education system.

Mrs Dunne: And closed schools.

MR BARR: In response to the comments by Dr Foskey and the interjection by the former shadow minister for education, I refer particularly to modes of transport to attend schools. One of the interesting features of our education system prior to the reforms in 2006 in a number of areas was the proportion of students within the local catchment area of a school who would bypass that school in order to go to another one because of concerns about the quality of that school. In some areas, up to 80 per cent of students in the school’s catchment area bypassed that school. They consciously hopped in their cars and drove to another school because of concerns about the quality of education that was offered in that school. That figure was 60 per cent in some high school catchment areas and up to 80 per cent in some primary school catchment areas. So the difficulty that needed to be responded to there related to the quality of education. As a result of the reforms that the government undertook in 2006, we have been able to invest in the quality of our education system in order to serve students into the future.

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