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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 5 August 2008) . . Page.. 2867 ..

securing the most talented teachers, graduates and mature age teachers, which is on top of our commitment of 22 April to increase the teacher professional support fund by 50 per cent and to index it along with teacher scholarships.

Mr Seselja: They copied that one.

MR PRATT: Well, of course, Mr Seselja, because they are moribund. They have got no ideas. Academia on that side of the chamber is barren.

Mr Seselja: Too busy closing schools.

MR PRATT: Correct, and haven’t we seen a lot of that lately. There is a compelling need for students at both ends of the performance spectrum to get more individual attention to help them achieve to the best of their potential. Smaller class sizes can provide an important contribution to meeting this need. This government will be remembered more for what they did not do rather than what they did do when it comes to education and meeting the needs of our young people. We must have smaller class sizes. I commend the ACT Liberals’ smaller class sizes policy.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (3.44): It is a pleasure to note that the minister has given up the opportunity to speak for 15 minutes in order to allow me to speak. I can only imagine it is because he was not up to the challenge that I put to him across the chamber to critique our policies. He wants to critique our policies after I have spoken, of course, so that I cannot respond. I will have to pre-empt what he is going to say. I will have to pre-empt the rubbish, because we have seen the rubbish out in the media, in terms of what they are going to say. But it is instructive that the minister for education cannot put together a 15-minute speech on smaller class sizes.

Apparently, Mr Barr, the minister for education in the ACT, in the discussion of this MPI, which talks about the importance of smaller class sizes and the impact of that on educational performance, has declined his right to take up the opportunity to speak for 15 minutes. That is a courtesy that is always extended to ministers, so that they can respond, because we expect that ministers would have some briefing to give on the issue, that they would have some opinions on the issue, and that perhaps they could respond to some of the academic literature that has been put out there. But Mr Barr has demonstrated that (1) he is not interested in smaller class sizes and (2) he does not want to go first. He does not want to go first on the costings because he will be left embarrassed, particularly if he is to pick up what the Chief Minister and Treasurer has put out there in the public arena—embarrassing, incorrect figures which cannot be backed up, which are totally incorrect.

It is interesting that the Chief Minister got Treasury to do a back-of-the-envelope analysis. In fact, most of what Treasury did actually confirmed our costings. It was the completely wrong assumptions, which were no doubt fed to Treasury by the Labor government, that actually led to the incorrect outcomes which Mr Stanhope has been touting. But it is worth going into what our policy is and it is worth going into a little detail on why we believe this is a good policy.

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