Page 4192 - Week 11 - Thursday, 17 Sept 2009

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committee inquiry and report. It is certainly the government’s intention to continue our capital works program as announced, so we will not be diverting any money from any existing project to meet the recommendations of that committee inquiry.

Future allocations of education funding will be the subject of future budget deliberations.

MR SPEAKER: Ms Hunter, a supplementary question?

MS HUNTER: Minister, did you not realise that this key evidence of Professor Caldwell’s that you used argued for small schools, not against, and can you reassure the Assembly that you actually read this document before using it to justify closing small schools?

MR BARR: Yes, Mr Speaker, and the point I made in my response to Ms Bresnan is, in fact, there was a considerable amount of confusion—that clearly still remains in the eyes of the Greens—in relation to international research in support of small schools. In the context of the size of schools nationally and internationally, ACT schools are small. ACT schools are small. The schools that were closed as part of the Towards 2020 process were smaller than small. Some had as few as 25 enrolments.

It is worth noting that throughout all of this highly politicised process, at the end of the witch-hunt and the end of the political circus, those opposite and the Greens have endorsed 90 per cent of the government’s reform agenda in relation to the public education system. I will take that as a ringing endorsement, through gritted teeth, it is worth noting. The tone of the report was through gritted teeth, but they had to concede that it has been a positive thing for the ACT education system, that the reform was needed and that it was supported by educational professionals. One need only go to the evidence of the ACT Principals Association and the Australian Education Union, who indicated there was a clear need for change, to see that. Change has occurred; it is good for the public education system. How it must have hurt those opposite to see public education enrolments increase in 2009, because we know how much they hate public schools.

Youth justice

MR COE: My question is to the Minister for Children and Young People. I refer to the article in today’s Canberra Times entitled “Case against thieves collapses”. Was the outcome of this case an intended or unintended consequence of the Children and Young People Act 2008?

MR CORBELL: Those relevant provisions of the Children and Young People Act are within my portfolio responsibilities as Attorney-General. The decision of the court is a matter that I am seeking advice on. What I would say is that the structure of the legislation is such that it is designed to strike an appropriate balance between the need for punishment where people commit crimes and cause injury and an impact on the community and also the need to recognise that we should avoid institutionalising young people in the criminal justice system for the rest of their life and that the emphasis should be on rehabilitation and on ensuring that people, particularly young people, do not become career criminals.

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