Page 855 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 24 February 2009

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government has also increased funding to non-government schools by over 35 per cent since coming to office. And now all ACT schools could receive an extra $230 million from the federal Labor government.

To ensure that this package is as effective as possible at protecting the jobs of Canberrans and further improving our education system, this government has been consulting with the community. We have consulted with every public school community through their principal. I have met with the P&C association, the AEU and the principals association. And through last week’s jobs and education roundtable the ACT government has consulted with the ACT independent schools association, the Catholic Education Office and the ACT Block Grant Authority. Through our consultation we have worked with the community to ensure that all ACT schools get their building projects started as soon as possible.

Mr Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to briefly put on the record my thanks to those who attended the roundtable. I thank them for their ideas and congratulate them on the way that they embraced this urgent and historic investment in jobs and education.

As a result of our community consultation, I announced last week that the ACT government will further cut red tape to allow schools to make the most of federal Labor’s package. This approach will allow schools to move quickly to become more sustainable. It will allow them to move faster to install new shade structures to keep classrooms cooler, water tanks to keep play spaces greener and bike racks and enclosures to encourage more kids to ride to school.

It will allow schools to move quickly to provide even better educational facilities to students, such as new classrooms, upgraded libraries, new gymnasiums and new halls. It will allow schools to move more quickly to become even better places to work and better places to learn.

We must move quickly because of the danger the global financial crisis presents to the jobs of Canberrans and because the commonwealth will set strict time lines as a result. That is why the Prime Minister has made this a “use it or lose it package”. That is why he has threatened to start “cracking heads and knocking skulls” to roll out this economic stimulus package.

To demonstrate the urgency let us take the example of a school that wants to a build a new gymnasium in round 1 of the commonwealth funding. This is a major project for any individual school. A school’s bid needs to be with the commonwealth for approval by the end of April this year at the latest. Work must start no later than June this year. And work must be completed by December 2010 at the latest. If schools cannot meet this deadline, they miss out. As the Prime Minister put it, “We are in uncharted, unprecedented times.” This package cannot wait, schools cannot wait and the economy cannot wait.

ACT Labor will do all it can to work with the federal government and the community to see that this $230 million is invested in our schools. Why are we doing this, Mr Speaker? Because we know that in the midst of this global financial crisis the jobs of

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