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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 August 2008) . . Page.. 2974 ..

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (4.40): I will take some time to speak about the issue today. Class sizes and the quality of public education in general are important issues and it is worth while taking time today to discuss this important issue.

Mr Pratt would have had some dealings with people in the US and would be familiar with the expression “motherhood, apple pie and the flag”. There is a certain element of this in the motion that Mr Seselja has put forward. They are all great ideas—no-brainers. They are all fine, but I am not sure that they are the makings of an entire education policy. Maybe that is coming later.

The issue of class sizes in public schools is, of course, topical because of the Liberal Party’s recent election promise that this motion seems to replicate. I do not think there is much doubt that there is a deal of evidence that smaller classes are the preferable model in education, particularly for younger children. For that reason, the Liberal Party’s policy is, at least to an extent, welcome.

I will not focus on the costing of the policy in this forum, although I listened with interest to the debate yesterday. However, it is costed in the same way that the shadow Treasurer has used in the past. I would be inclined to be a little bit sceptical of the Liberal Party’s figures, and especially of the way that the figures constantly changed on the day they were released.

Mr Seselja: Do you want to go into them for us?

MR MULCAHY: I will cost them, don’t worry, because they have had four different costings so far.

Opposition members interjecting—


MR MULCAHY: It is an area of great sensitivity for the opposition.

Opposition members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order! Former friends should not squabble in here.

MR MULCAHY: I thought we were all friends here, Mr Speaker. So the issue of costings is one I am always happy to talk about because it put most of the grey hairs on my head, in trying to deal with my former colleagues opposite who struggled with economics. It is not a strong point over there. I was distressed—indeed, it was one of the factors that prompted me to enter the Legislative Assembly—when my daughter was placed in a composite class with children spanning three grades in her then school.

I have the distinction of being the only member I could find in Hansard who was subject to interjection in an inaugural speech, when the then minister for education, Ms Gallagher, took issue with me talking on this matter. But it was a matter of fact, and they called my office just after I gave my first comments here to find out what school was involved. Composite classes of 50-plus students will not bring out the best

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