Page 648 - Week 02 - Thursday, 6 March 2008

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

As I said earlier, the government is in the process of investing $350 million in important education infrastructure for our city. We are building new schools in areas where they are needed and we are improving the infrastructure in all public schools. Every public school in the ACT will be upgraded. These upgrades have already seen more than 226 separate projects across 73 different schools just in the first year of the four-year program, They include new classrooms, new dedicated teaching areas, science labs and art rooms, for example, as well as upgrades to staff rooms and other amenities around schools.

The new state-of-the-art Harrison school opened this year, and we look forward to adding west Belconnen, Gungahlin college and the new Tuggeranong P-10 school over the years 2009, 2010 and 2011. This investment in our facilities ensures state-of-the-art environments for our teachers and students into the future. It was a great pleasure to attend the opening of the world-class Harrison primary school. On that day I had the opportunity to meet with hundreds of young Canberra families who were very pleased to be able to send their children to what is the most modern and best equipped school in Australia. It is an outstanding facility. It sets a new benchmark in terms of the quality public education infrastructure that we see in the ACT and will continue to see as a result of this government’s investment.

Those opposite did nothing for public education throughout their entire time in office. In fact, in his speech the former Leader of the Opposition had the hide to criticise the closure of schools. He has a particularly good record there. When he closed Charnwood high school, his consultation process was about four weeks. It is a farce for those opposite to seek to claim any moral high ground with their “purer than driven snow” attitude to school closures. They should be treated by the community as the joke that they are. It is no wonder that they are polling less than 30 per cent.

When they do deign to enter the education policy debate, it is only to steal a policy that the government announced a year ago. Mr Seselja’s first and only policy announcement in education so far, other than keeping open the two schools that are moving to a brand new building 500 metres away, was to copy the government’s position on a safe schools task force. We undertook last year to review all policies in relation to safety in schools. That task force was established last year and has been meeting monthly and it contains representatives from all of the key stakeholders. It has been meeting with ACT Policing and has been making a difference in terms of safety and student safety in our public schools. The data that we have received over the final two terms of 2007 clearly shows that these policies are working. I hope that we—

Mrs Dunne: Show it. Put it on the table. Show us.

MR BARR: I did during the annual report hearings, thank you very much. I look forward to the day when we can eliminate all bad behaviour in schools, but I fear that that day will only be achieved when we eliminate all bad behaviour in our society. Meanwhile, schools have an appropriate role to play, and they continue to do so with strong support from this government.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .