Page 4191 - Week 11 - Thursday, 17 Sept 2009

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Mr Speaker, lo and behold, if you do an analysis of the ACT public education system at the moment, the vast majority of primary schools fall between that 200 and 400 size and the vast majority of high schools fall between 600 and 1,000. And in the context of all of the international research, they would be defined as small schools. In the context of the ACT, and where our public system was at in 2006, with respect to schools with enrolments of 25, 67, 71 or 78, or in the case of high schools, with about 250 enrolments, they are beyond small; they are micro. They are tiny schools.

I go back to the original point I made: one would not want to misinterpret international data and seek to put your own view on what constitutes a small school in a national context or an international context.

Opposition members interjecting—

MR BARR: We see from the constant interjections of those opposite that they have no interest in significant educational matters.

MR SPEAKER: Ms Bresnan to ask a supplementary question.

MS BRESNAN: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, why in the statement of reasons did you say Professor Caldwell’s work was Australian research when quite clearly it is US research?

MR BARR: Professor Caldwell is an Australian.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Doszpot, a supplementary question?

MR DOSZPOT: Will the minister accept the recommendation of the education committee to reopen the two small schools of Hall and Tharwa?

MR BARR: What I have indicated is that the government will respond in detail to the committee’s report in due course. I imagine that that response will be tabled in the Assembly at some point before the end of this calendar year.

The commitment I have given is that the government will not take one cent away from any ACT public school in their capital works program or any of their ongoing funding. Not one cent from any capital works project, any school renewal project or any ongoing recurrent funding will be taken from any ACT public school in order to fund the black hole that has been created by the Liberal Party’s position in relation to this matter.

The Liberal policy as outlined in that committee report would require the expenditure of around $10 million in up-front capital to re-establish the four schools, as is Liberal Party policy now and as was taken to the election, and between about $300,000 and $700,000 per year, depending on the individual school, in recurrent costs.

I very categorically stated that the government will not take one cent away from another school in order to fund the recommendations that have come forth in this

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