Page 2599 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 2 July 2008

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We have done that; we have replaced the 100; we have added another 47 and by the end of this budget we will have added, I think, another 24; it may be a few more than that. There are acute care beds, there are critical care beds and there is a new intensive care unit at Calvary, providing more beds. This is what the people of Canberra can believe. And do you know what they do not know? They do not know what you guys are going to do, because we have not had your health policy—not one idea, not one initiative, not one forward-thinking vision for this city.

We have a vision for this city. It is not all about hospitals; it is around the future of the public health system. We have outlined to the community what we are going to do. And I think, 14 weeks out, it is about time that you guys outlined what you are going to do.


MS PORTER: My question is the Minister for Education and Training. Would the minister advise the Assembly the steps the Stanhope Labor government is taking to ensure ACT public school students are ready for their futures in the computer age?

MR BARR: I thank Ms Porter for her question and her longstanding interest in the education portfolio. I know that those opposite immediately start squirming as, again, Ms Porter demonstrates a commitment to inquiring about our education system—an interest in our education system that is greater than the combined interests of the Liberal opposition. And the former shadow minister sits up the back and yawns. Let the record note that.

The government is well aware of the vital importance of information and communication technology in our schools, just as it is vitally important in our everyday lives. I hazard a guess that, when most of the members in this chamber went to school, it was whiteboards or possibly blackboards, and even, for some opposite, the old chalk slate boards were effectively the media of record-taking and communication within our classrooms. When most of us went to school, computers were a topic to be studied and they were kept in a lab. But now—as the Prime Minister has observed—computers are not a subject to be learned, but are the key to learning all subjects.

What this government is doing to ensure access to computers—information technology—can be summarised in three actions. Firstly, we are investing record amounts in infrastructure. We are working cooperatively with the commonwealth to deliver on-the-ground results in our schools and, most importantly, changing the culture around technology, most particularly computers, in our ACT public schools.

As a result of this year’s budget, the Stanhope Labor government has invested in state-of-the-art information and communication technology for our schools to the tune of some $27.7 million cumulatively from 2006-07, including the additional initiatives in this year’s budget. There is an extra $7.7 million provided this year designed to help students, teachers and parents realise the immense range of opportunities provided by the latest technology. This includes ensuring every ACT public school is connected to fast broadband, fibre-optic cable and wireless, putting ACT public schools at the ICT forefront both nationally and internationally.

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