Page 2984 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 6 August 2008

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We can improve it. There are a number of ways of doing it. Smaller class sizes are a key way of doing it. We have seen in the research that not only do the smaller class sizes help all students but they in fact particularly help students from disadvantaged backgrounds. They particularly help students who are struggling, because they get the attention they deserve. They get help with numeracy. They get help with literacy. Behavioural issues and other special needs can be identified. They can be more easily identified and they can be more easily dealt with when we have teachers dealing with 20 or 21 students rather than 27, 28 or 29 students. It is basic logic; it is compelling logic; it is backed up by ample academic research over a period of years. Since the 1980s right through, we have seen it.

What we have unfortunately today is a shift away from this bipartisan consensus.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Members on the government benches, please keep the discussions down to a dull roar.

MR SESELJA: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. We do have a shift away from this consensus that we want to continue to improve and we want to continue to take the burden off our teachers in our primary schools. That is disappointing but that will provide a clear difference for the people of the ACT when it comes to education.

We have a mob who have been intent on ripping the heart out of our system through school closures; we have a mob who cannot be trusted on their education promises because they promised prior to the last election not to close any schools and they turned around and closed 23. We now have a Labor Party that is no longer committed to the idea of lowering class sizes; in fact, a Labor Party that leaves open the possibility of increasing class sizes.

That is why the original motion should be supported. That is why this amended motion, as we see, as usual, does not get to the heart of the matter, has not been well argued by the minister and in fact has been quite embarrassingly argued by the minister. But we will be very happy to continue this argument as the election approaches. Our plan is for small classes. Their plan leaves open the possibility of larger class sizes. They will be judged very harshly on their record on school closures and on education promises. And we look forward to a detailed education debate as this election approaches.

Question put:

That Mr Seselja’s motion, as amended, be agreed to.

A call of the Assembly having commenced—

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: The fire alarm bell ringing, I suspend the sitting until the ringing of the bells.

Sitting suspended from 5.20 to 5.23 pm.

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