Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 11 February 2009) . . Page.. 639 ..
MR BARR: Perhaps Mr Smyth, who is familiar with being in federal opposition, could give Mr Seselja the phone number of the Leader of the Opposition and help him make that contact. While the federal Liberals are delaying the package, ACT Labor is getting on with ensuring that every ACT school can benefit from this record investment in education.
Yesterday I wrote to every government school principal to tell them about the package and to ask them to immediately identify priority projects so that the territory can prepare bids in this commonwealth process. Today every government school principal is meeting with the executive team in the Department of Education and Training to discuss how they can gain the best advantage from this commonwealth package.
I have met this morning with Sandra Lambert, the coordinator-general, to discuss how all schools in the territory can benefit from this package. I will soon make contact with non-government school bloc grant authorities, the peak groups, to advise them that agencies such as ACTPLA and the Department of Education and Training stand ready to help them to ensure that their projects receive commonwealth funding.
There is no doubt that, if this package is passed by the Senate, it will deliver for every ACT student. It will deliver new libraries, new classrooms, new gymnasiums, better places for students to learn and also, importantly, better places for teachers to teach.
This commonwealth investment builds on the ACT government’s record investment in our school system. ACT Labor has invested $350 million in upgrading every ACT public school. I think I got from A to M of public school upgrades just in the first year of the government’s four-year program. This government has delivered 270 capital works projects across more than 70 schools in the first 18 months of that four-year program.
We intend to continue to deliver that program, and this additional commonwealth money will make that program go further—much more investment in areas of importance to school communities and across, of course, both sectors. It means all ACT schools will share in $230 million worth of additional commonwealth investment.
I think this needs to be looked at in contrast to the record of investment of the previous federal Liberal government where we saw, if we were lucky, somewhere between $4 million and $5 million a year coming into the public system from the commonwealth. Compare that with the $140 million or thereabouts under this package.
We continue to work cooperatively with the federal government. We have seen more than 8,000 students across 23 ACT secondary schools have access to new computers as a result of our investments in broadband and ICT and, of course, the commonwealth government’s secondary school computer fund. We look forward to continuing to work with the federal government in other areas of national partnership in education reform. There is a huge agenda of reform in education in Australia.