Page 2516 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 6 August 2013

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MS BURCH: I thank Mr Wall for his question. Certainly that has been a proposition that has been put forward by some in their public commentary, and there has been other public commentary that an appeal process, indeed, would not be beneficial to the approval-in-principle process. It is all being considered.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Wall.

MR WALL: Minister, how can Canberra families be assured that you are currently operating within the full principles and intent of the Education Act in respect of non-government school approvals?

MS BURCH: I have absolute confidence that the decisions I have made to date are within the principles and the guidance that the act entitles me to make those decisions on. I have said before, and I will say again and I will say in this place, that it is definitely the community’s choice and the choice of parents about where they send their children, and that includes government and non-government schools.

The better schools reforms, I think, once and for all, very clearly, at quite a significant policy and funding level, have said the divide between government and non-government schools now is at an end and everyone has the right to choose the school of their choice. But I will say I will be a proud advocate of government schools and I will do all I can to make government schools the preferred choice of ACT families.


DR BOURKE: My question is to the minister for education. Minister, I draw your attention to the recent announcement by the Prime Minister that Catholic systemic schools have signed up to the better schools plan. Can you inform the Assembly of how this announcement affects the ACT and what has been the response of local Catholic schools?

MS BURCH: I thank Dr Bourke for his question. It is pleasing to see that the Catholic system is joining the ACT public and independent schools in signing up to the better schools plan. This plan is good for all Australian students. In fact, it is so good that even the federal opposition has had to come in and support it. Indeed, Tony Abbott is apparently on a unity ticket with our Prime Minister. It is very good to see.

The Catholic Education Commission in a media release of 23 July said:

The National Catholic Education Commission has today welcomed the commitment of all state and territory Catholic education Commissions to the Commonwealth Government’s funding arrangements now known as the ‘Better Schools Plan’ … Catholic education is confident that under this legislation no school will be worse off and these funding arrangements will deliver significant increases over time for every child in the Catholic system.

I know that view is echoed by the Catholic schools across the ACT. Moira Najecki, the Canberra and Goulburn CEO, for example, has said that that has brought us one step closer to funding certainty for Catholic schools and that it recognises the needs of

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