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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 19 September 2018) . . Page.. 3801 ..

I spent some time, like Ms Lee, Ms Le Couteur and Mr Wall outside during the protest the other day, and one music teacher spoke at length about her concerns about what would happen. She wrote to me later and said, “The H course is absolutely invaluable to young students, particularly those wishing to continue with a career in music. I know many of those who have completed this course and have done so, and those currently enrolled intend to do.” In relation to the standard music teaching in the public school system and, indeed, in many private schools, this teacher said that she is disappointed and that the programs offered “are totally inadequate for serious students preparing for tertiary entrance. Consequently, the onus is on private instrumental teachers to try to ensure that talented students have the satisfactory level of pre-knowledge and training in music history, theory, harmony, composition and aural skills, with the shining exception of those students who are fortunate enough to be accepted into the H course.”

And one of the important things that was said to us outside the Assembly the other day is about the extent of contact time. The students talked to me about the contact time that they had. It is essentially twice the contact time expected in any other tertiary course. One of the flautists pointed out to me that it was in fact twice the contact time of the astrophysics H course. But even though they have twice the contact time, it is still only considered a major, not a double major or even a major-minor. So these students work very hard after they have been accepted into this very high-standard course.

I think that it is entirely remiss of the government to have reallocated the funding. (Extension of time granted.) It is entirely remiss of the government to have reallocated resources at the expense of this program. As Ms Lee said in her opening remarks, the $275,000 that was spent in 2018 on this program is a drop in the bucket in relation to the education budget. I commend Ms Lee because she has put this in the context not of an arts program but of an education program. It is clearly an education program. It is a program which is authorised by the BSSS, and students participating use the scores that they obtain in this course towards their ATAR.

The H course in classical music and jazz puts talented young Canberrans on the world stage in all senses. But the minister for the arts has closed the curtain on that world stage. The minister should be condemned for his lack of foresight in this place.

MS LEE (Kurrajong) (3.29): I thank Mrs Dunne for her contribution to this debate. Her advocacy for the arts is well known and long held. Like me, she too has been contacted by students, former students and angry members of the music fraternity who are perplexed at this short-sighted decision.

I thank Ms Le Couteur for her contribution and for her amendment. We on this side of the chamber are never surprised when government members have the desperate need to rewrite anything we present, whether it is simply to say the same thing, to create an entirely different story or to rewrite history all together. Ms Le Couteur has obviously taken some lessons from her coalition partners in drafting her amendment today in taking the government line of omitting everything after the heading. I guess the desperate need for the government to ensure that not one word comes from us is paramount to them.

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