Page 2092 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 21 June 2011

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Mr Hanson: You created this problem in the first place.

MS GALLAGHER: Mr Hanson, I did not create the problem. I do not have any control over additions to the list. What I can do is control removals from the list. It is important that we look at areas where we can have and have within our control capacity to improve. That is what we are doing. We are putting more money in—more money; more operations; more people seen on time. In the last year we have seen about a 30 per cent reduction in long-wait patients off the list.

It is always the way when they do not like the answer to the question. Indeed, I think I heard Mr Seselja on the radio the other day dealing with a difficult set of questions, when he said, “I can answer it; you might not like the question, but I am answering it.” That is something that we say in this place all the time. Whenever I am answering a question and you do not like it, Mr Seselja, you all start talking and interjecting. You all start talking and interjecting. That is a measure of our success—the level of chattering going on over there.

Schools—students’ needs

DR BOURKE: My question is to the Minister for Education and Training. Would the minister advise the Assembly about what the government is doing to ensure ACT public schools continue to meet the needs of students into the 21st century?

MR BARR: I thank Dr Bourke for his first question in this place and for his obvious passion in the area of education and training. I note that Dr Bourke is now well on his way to having asked more questions of me than the shadow minister for education.

In 2009, for the first time in a decade, we saw enrolments in ACT public schools grow. This has been in large part because of the successful education reforms of the ACT Labor government, most particularly since 2006, reforms that have delivered more than half a billion dollars worth of investment into our public school system, building new schools where the students are, in growing areas of the city, and of course upgrading every single public school within the territory.

Beyond just a bricks and mortar approach to education reform, the government is committed to reform inside the classroom. The particular focus in recent times has been on secondary schooling within the territory. Last year I released a discussion paper to begin a community dialogue about what the high school years in the ACT ought to look like in the 21st century. We got a very strong response from across the education sectors to these policy discussions. That feedback came in a draft document that was again circulated for public consultation. All of this input led to the Excellence and enterprise: advancing public schools of distinction policy framework built by this government in partnership with the ACT community that I launched last month.

The framework is a long-term approach to improving public secondary schooling in the territory. Under our plan, ACT public high schools and colleges will be able to specialise. It should be noted, of course, that within the specialisation framework the education needs of all students will continue to be catered for. Different models of school organisation will be encouraged and an example already in place is the

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