Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 5 August 2008) . . Page.. 2875 ..
for smaller classes and more teachers?” They say: “That’s what we want. We don’t want super schools. We don’t want super schools out in west Belconnen; we don’t want super schools down in Kambah. We want smaller classes for our teachers, we want more teachers and we want efforts to get the best and brightest.” There is nothing that Mr Barr has said here about getting the best and brightest.
They are having another piece of research. What it really means is that we are going to talk about something in a vague way until after the election. If the federal government does not fund this initiative, Andrew Barr will walk away and he will have nothing to show for this. The teachers of the ACT will get nothing out of this because the Stanhope government has made no commitment to fund better salaries for teachers—no commitment at all. What they are doing is saying, “We will ask St Kevin for some money.” If St Kevin does not come up with it, woe betide the teachers of the ACT. They will get nothing from Andrew Barr and Jon Stanhope—in the same way as they have got nothing so far.
They have got closed schools. That has been Andrew Barr’s policy. The thing that Andrew Barr will be remembered for for his entire political career and for posterity will be as the man who rode roughshod over the ACT schooling system and closed down 23 schools. His only preoccupation has been with closing things. He has no policies about the future, about addressing the drift to non-government schools. All of these things are beyond his capacity—and I suspect even beyond his interest.
We saw that today. In normal circumstances, if a minister does not get the call in a matter of public importance for the second 15 minutes, there is hell to pay. You get snotty-nosed ministers saying, “That’s not the way it’s done here; we should have the call.” This minister did not have the courage to stand up and defend his policies. He did not have the courage to stand up and defend the bogus critique run by the Chief Minister and the Treasury. And he still has not done it. Ms Porter might have some time; she might be able to get up and do it. We would like to see Ms Porter run the critique in defence of the Treasurer’s funding.
ACT Labor have shown again that they do not care about teachers and that they do not care about the children in years 4, 5 and 6 in their schools or the parents who send them. This is the message that we need to take home. Andrew Barr offers no hope for teachers in the ACT. He is waiting for St Kevin to come up with some money so that he can pay special teachers a special amount of money. If St Kevin does not come up with it, there will be no money for teachers. And there will be no policy for better class sizes and better teaching and learning environments at their most basic in the ACT, because Andrew Barr is interested in big schools which are new and shiny and is not interested in teachers in everyday schools in our suburbs providing for the needs of people in the suburbs where they live.
This has been the chronicle of the Stanhope government since 2004: “We will close schools; we will amalgamate schools; we will build super schools. We’ll tell lies to the community. Then we will renege on our commitments at the election and then we will close even more schools.” (Time expired.)
MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (4.21): Education is one of the core functions of government and you need an experienced government with a proven track record in