Page 1882 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 2 June 2015

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I would at this point like to acknowledge and thank the current councils and the two chairs of the councils, Mr Craig Curry and Ms Narelle Hargreaves OAM. Ms Hargreaves in particular is well known and has long been associated with education in Canberra. She had many years of teaching experience, including 14 years as a principal in ACT schools, and she also held the position of director of schools and international education and community partnerships with the ACT Education and Training Directorate for 10 years. I trust that she will continue to play a role in education in the years to come.Having made those remarks, I would like to indicate that the Greens will be supporting this bill, as I understand the motivations of the minister in seeking to provide greater flexibility and increased focus when seeking external advice.

However, I would like to put on the record the Greens’ belief that there is great value in these external advisory functions and also in the need for ministerial roundtables and stakeholder engagements. Certainly in my time as minister I have had many occasions to hold these types of engagements. Some I have announced and made public comment on; some have been more targeted and perhaps even “closed door”. Regardless of their nature, I have found these sessions to be informative, frank and useful exchanges which have lasting impacts on subsequent policy directions.

I have also appreciated the written advice and submissions of other external critical friends of government, be they boards, statutory authorities or peak bodies. They provide a unique interface between the executive, the relevant directorates, user groups and the coalface service delivery agencies. I would urge ministers to continue to seek opportunities to liaise and listen to these advocacy groups, because I think they bring a great deal of value to the deliberations that we have to make.I hope this bill will not see a reduction in this kind of quality advice being provided to the minister and the Education and Training Directorate but instead see a clear increase in targeted, topical and relevant advice responsive to the challenging and changing needs of the education sector. In my discussions with Minister Burch about this legislation, she has indicated to me very clearly that that is her intention. This is about having groups that can look at specific issues, and can look at them, perhaps, in a short time frame and bring in particular expertise.

As members will know, the Greens believe that high quality and equitable education is a cornerstone of a healthy democracy, and it is fundamental to Australia’s continued prosperity. We understand that learning is a lifelong process, fostered in both formal education and informal settings from early childhood through adult life, and believe that everyone should have equitable access to an education that meets their needs and aspirations and gives them the skills and capacity to participate in society. These high level beliefs require real-world actions and policies to achieve, and the collaboration of both the non-government and government education sectors is vital to ensure we are working together toward a shared vision.

I am optimistic that in making this change to the legislation the government will have at its disposal the ability to bring together groups of people with real expertise and

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