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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 8 May 2008) . . Page.. 1607 ..

Dr Foskey: I didn’t ignore it. I just want a time line—dates, times.

MR BARR: I can advise Dr Foskey—I will repeat the statement I made in answer to the previous question—that I will be making a series of major policy announcements in this area in the very near future.

Budget—skills training

MS PORTER: Mr Speaker, through you, my question is to the Minister for Education. Can the minister inform the Assembly of how the Stanhope government’s 2008-09 budget will help ensure Canberrans acquire the skills they require to be ready for the future?

MR BARR: I again thank Ms Porter for her interest in education and training matters. I know those opposite and on the crossbench do not like to hear this, but I think Ms Porter has asked more questions on education and training than the entire Assembly combined. I pay great tribute to Ms Porter for her ongoing interest in education and training matters.

Opposition members interjecting—

MR BARR: I welcome the interest of those opposite, finally, in matters of education and training, even if it is only by way of petty interjection. That, seemingly, is all that the opposition are capable of.

As members would be aware, our country is in the grip of a skills crisis. The prime cause of that skills crisis is 11 years of underinvestment in skills by the previous Howard federal Liberal government—the abject failure at commonwealth level to invest in skills. Fortunately, amidst those 11 barren years of investment in skills, the ACT Labor government has been the shining beacon of investment in skills and training. In fact, in every year that this government has been in office, funding has been increased to the Canberra Institute of Technology. We remain determined to tackle the local impacts of the national skills shortage. The budget that was brought down by the Chief Minister and Treasurer on Tuesday continues this government’s record investment in public education and in skills and in training.

I had the great pleasure at the 80th birthday celebrations of the CIT last week to announce a major package of investment in the Canberra Institute of Technology, the centrepiece of which was a $9 million investment in a new horticulture facility for the Bruce campus. This new facility will provide a state-of-the-art environment for students to learn the skills which will help us as a society understand how climate change will impact on plant life and how, through science, we can adapt climate change.

Unlike the campus at Weston, the new facility will also provide students with access to services such as canteens, student support and counselling, better access to public transport and access to a range of complementary programs in surveying, construction and environmental sciences. The new facility will also include features to reduce energy use and to maximise water reuse through on-site storage.

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