Page 740 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 1 April 2008

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department or the school to conduct an entire semester’s worth of classes out of the school hall. That said—and just to make sure that it is crystal clear for everyone, because we know how heated these issues can become—from time to time schools use their halls to conduct educational activities. Sometimes during the winter months that can also involve physical education activities. It can also involve school bands and a range of other things. So halls are used as part of educational activities, and they will continue to be used as part of educational activities, in our schools.

But, and let me repeat this, because I know those opposite often take a little bit of time for these things to sink in: Lyons primary school will not as an entire school be operating out of a school hall for a semester. The advice I have from the project design team who are working on the renovations at Lyons is that students can be accommodated in their classrooms on the second floor of the school throughout the renovations. And I repeat for those opposite, who take a very long time to grasp even minute and easy details, that the vast majority of work involved in the renovations at this school, and all other schools that are undertaking a process of renewal of their infrastructure, occurs when staff and students are not at the school, during school holiday periods.

MR SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Mr Pratt?

MR PRATT: Why did your government tell the Canberra Times that moving the classes into the school hall was a possibility?

MR BARR: We did not. We indicated very clearly that there were two important priorities here. One—the first and foremost—was to ensure that any disruption to education at Lyons primary school during the remainder of this year was minimised. Secondly, we had a very strong desire to ensure that in relation to the early childhood school—with its renewed focus on new services from birth to eight years, so bringing in a range of new services, which does require renovation, which we signalled in 2006—that work will predominantly occur during school holiday periods. The government is consulting with the school community through the Department of Education and Training, meeting with the school board on Thursday night to discuss the nature of the renovations and to discuss the range of options that are available to minimise the impact on students at Lyons.

Let me make one point very clear. The government will, through its education renewal program, invest $350 million in renewing our public education infrastructure. We will ensure that every public school in the ACT is upgraded. We will also ensure that we are building new schools in areas of high demand. We will be renewing education infrastructure in Tuggeranong and in west Belconnen—education infrastructure renewal opposed by the Liberal Party. We will be building a new college in Gungahlin. We have just opened a new P-6 school at Harrison, a school that opened with 300 enrolments on its very first day, which is an outstanding result for that school and an outstanding result for public education.

We are also continuing our investment in early childhood education. I am happy to say that this investment in early childhood education, as demonstrated through the infrastructure renewal at Lyons primary school, will see renewed interest in early childhood education.

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