Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 August 2016) . . Page.. 2549 ..
MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (8.38): This is a particularly significant area of government. Behind health, it is effectively the biggest investment in the budget. From my point of view, behind health, there can be no more important service that the government provides than the education of our children. It is clear that there is more that needs to be done and, as is said often, it is not just about the money; it is the matter of how that money is spent and where it is directed within our system.
I would note at the outset, and I made this point when Mr Rattenbury was appointed—it is actually not a criticism of Mr Rattenbury, I am sure he will be glad to hear—that I think it is extraordinary that a Labor government would decide to pass the portfolio of education to the Greens. I find it remarkable. It just shows how far this Labor government has drifted from core Labor values that it would decide that it is more important to give, as it did, Ms Fitzharris responsibilities for the tram, a light rail system, and Mr Rattenbury carriage of education. It is just extraordinary and it says so much about what is wrong with this government in terms of its priorities, its focus and how far it has drifted from its core values.
There are the reflections of others. I note that Mr Stanhope has described Mr Rattenbury as a loyal member of the Labor cabinet. He seems to have become very close to the Labor Party, so close that maybe those inside that cabinet cannot tell the difference. But I certainly know from teachers I have spoken to, people in the—
Mr Doszpot: A new deputy leader.
MR HANSON: A new deputy leader perhaps. Perhaps that is the solution. Certainly people I have spoken to were disappointed—this is Labor people I am talking about—that Labor did not think education was sufficiently important to hold that close to the Labor government.
It is an extraordinarily important area of government. That is why in my budget reply, which now seems quite some time ago, I announced that we were going to make a significant investment in education should we get into government in October. It is an $85 million package. It will make a real difference across our school system, both non-government and government. There are three broad components to what we have announced. There is $60 million in extra support for infrastructure. I know that Mr Doszpot, who has visited every school at least once, understands these issues intimately. A lot of our schools are run down and over capacity.
A lot of this stems from two things. Firstly, Mr Barr shut 23 Canberra public schools after this government said it would not. It went into the election in 2004 promising not to close any schools. After the election, when Mr Barr became education minister, he shut 23. It is ironic that we have had the criticism this week, the fake criticism, the scare campaign, that somehow the Liberals are going to cut things. It was the Costello review, the functional review that was all about budgetary management, that led to this Labor government cutting 23 schools. Mr Barr was the person who cut them. As a result, our schools are overcrowded. Since that time our schools have not been maintained properly. Certainly we have heard many complaints from the education union about the failure to invest properly in our school facilities.