Page 5694 - Week 15 - Thursday, 10 December 2009

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There obviously are issues, and I must say that I acknowledge the fantastic campaign and attention that the NRMA continues to bring to bear to this issue. I think it is interesting, that it is one of those interesting issues that the ACCC, despite banging away at it for years, has failed to achieve any real change or difference to it. It is, at its heart, an issue for the ACCC and the commonwealth. States and territories can do what they can.

As I indicated yesterday in relation to this issue, the ACT government has just, through the commissioning of John Martin, ex-commissioner of the ACCC, sought to define what a state or territory government can do with the levers available to it in relation to competition within the supermarket industry. I have to say, the Liberal Party’s support of that particular process could be described as lukewarm at best. I welcome the interest from the Liberal Party in the ACT government’s intervention into the service station market. So we have a very lukewarm response by the Liberal Party to this government’s efforts in dealing with competition in the supermarket industry, but I am encouraged by their support and urging in relation to service stations and the role that the government might play in intervening in that market.

Education—Australian early development index

MR HARGREAVES: My question is to the Minister for Education and Training. The minister will be aware of the findings of the Australian early development index. Can the minister advise the Assembly on what these findings say about the school readiness of Canberra’s children?

MR BARR: I thank Mr Hargreaves for the question. I can advise the Assembly that the Australian early development index is a national snapshot of young children’s development in this country. It measures across five domains—five types of development. These are physical health and wellbeing; social competence; emotional maturity; language and cognitive skills; and communication and general knowledge.

Through agreement with the commonwealth government and all states and territories this year, the index was completed nation-wide for the first time. So between May and July, information was collected on more than a quarter of a million Australian children, an estimated 97.5 per cent of this country’s five-year-old population.

This involved more than 15,000 teachers conducting a 30 minute interview with each child. The Rudd government provided $21.9 million towards the establishment of the index. It is worth noting that the index is not a measure of the progress of individual children and whilst the data is gathered by teachers in schools, the index maps developmental vulnerability based on where the child lives, not where they go to school.

The index is an effort by the commonwealth government, in partnership with the states and territories, to better understand how young Australians are tracking on their preparation for school. The index will be a valuable tool for all governments to identify areas needing further investment and further policy development.

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