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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 August 2016) . . Page.. 2550 ..

Ultimately, the people that lose out are students, kids in those schools, who are in suboptimal facilities, sometimes unsafe facilities. We have had several fires occurring in older, rundown schools. Our hardworking teachers deserve to be in facilities that are not dilapidated, rundown and overcrowded. We will provide $60 million over a term of government to restore some of the damage that has been done by this government.

A second element is supporting kids with special needs in non-government schools. There was money in the budget for kids in government schools. There is a lot of money going towards kids with special needs in the public school system. And we support that; we absolutely support that. We want to make sure that we are looking after those kids that need extra help. I think that as a community, as a society, that is an absolute core responsibility. But there are a lot of kids, as we know, in non-government schools that are not receiving any support.

That has a number of possible implications. Either those kids stay where they are and do not get the support that potentially they deserve or, and this often happens, the parents move children with special needs across to the public system where they will get the support. The problem with that is that the kid is not necessarily in the school that is the first choice of the parents and, secondly, it just puts more pressure, increased pressure, on the public school system, which is not a good thing. So there is $17.5 million across the term, $5 million a year, which will provide significant support to those kids and go some way to implementing the recommendations from the Shaddock review.

The final element is $7.5 million in support for our specialised schools. These are the kids that are doing it the toughest, with some of the more profound special needs. We have allocated $7.5 million, a mix of extra ongoing money and capital, so that those schools, in consultation with the directorate, can upgrade facilities, provide new equipment and provide support for kids with profound special needs.

I am very proud of that announcement. I think it is an excellent one. I commend Mr Doszpot and Mr Wall, who also did a lot of work in his role as shadow minister for disabilities, for putting that announcement together. It is the sort of response that you will see from us as Canberra Liberals, the point being that, if we are not spending the enormous amounts of money that are going to be spent on not just phase 1 of the tram, which is $1.78 billion, but the phases to come—and the government has said it is going to announce phase 2 before the election—these are the priorities you can invest in. I would suggest that the maintenance and capacity of our schools, our special needs kids in our specialised schools and our special needs kids in the non-government sector should be a higher priority than a tram.

I find it extraordinary that the government would choose to criticise the Canberra Liberals—falsely, as it turns out, if you read the front page of the Canberra Times, as Mr Doszpot alluded to before—for having announced funding for disabled kids. Extra funding for disabled kids is what that mob opposite have criticised us for. Extra money to maintain our schools, our dilapidated schools, is what they have criticised us for, and they think somehow that is a job cut. It is a bizarre world we are living in

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