Page 2561 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 2 July 2008

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tabled in December 2006. I look forward to ongoing dialogue with the government and other members in the next few months in order to progress the Civil Partnerships Amendment Bill.

Debate (on motion by Mr Corbell) adjourned to the next sitting.

Education (Parental Control) Amendment Bill 2008

Mr Mulcahy, pursuant to notice, presented the bill.

Title read by Clerk.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (10.31): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

It gives me great pleasure to introduce this bill to the Assembly, as I believe that it will have a great deal of success in ensuring that parents are able to maintain proper control over their children’s education and get the most out of the public school system. The bill I am introducing today is an important one. It goes to the heart of one of the most important aspects of parenting: the education of children. In our society, we take the view that a child’s education is one of the most important aspects of their life. We know that a good education can often be the cornerstone of success as an adult.

There have been many in this place and elsewhere who have observed and commented on the drift away from public schooling towards the private school system. Some have been concerned about this drift and some have regarded it as a problem needing to be solved through greater public funding. I do not see this drift to private education as an inherently bad thing, as many others seem to treat it. However, it does seem to me that, if we are witnessing a drift away from public schools, we ought to listen to some of the complaints from parents who have been dissatisfied with the public schooling system. These complaints may be of assistance to us in diagnosing problems and improving the public education system.

I hasten to add that the drift to private schooling is the decision of parents, and these decisions should be respected. If government wishes to compete in the education market, then it must provide a quality service. This is not simply a matter of funding. We have all heard the mantra, of course, for more funding that inevitably follows any criticism of public schools, yet parents make many specific complaints about the public schooling system which often require only a change in attitude and focus to in fact fix.

When I have spoken to parents who have taken the decision to move their children from public schooling to private schooling, the concern is rarely a lack of funding. It is the approach taken by some public schools that is the problem. Often I hear concerns expressed about the lack of focus on core subjects like mathematics, reading and writing—and I know the minister will quote statistics here giving a very high rating in the ACT, but the belief is not universally held that these are the core areas of attention—and the fact that much time is spent on soft subject matter and highly subjective or even politicised subjects.

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