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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 19 September 2018) . . Page.. 3834 ..


real terms and acts? Or is it okay for us to keep slipping, so long as most of the time and in most areas we stay ahead of Australian states, completely ignoring our relative socio-economic advantage?

What will it take to make her do more than have conversations and play with legislation? The evidence of failure is there. What is not apparent is evidence to support her claims in part 2 of her amended motion. Ms Berry says that the government has, “Proactively inquired into the relative performance of ACT schools.” She says it has responded to the Auditor-General’s report. The minister says she is leading a national review of NAPLAN. But she is doing nothing about acknowledging her failures in our school system and she never will because does not believe that there are failures. She says that it is NAPLAN, that it is inaccuracies in data recording and that all our schools are great.

If the ACT is making the progress that the minister claims we are, why did respected researchers at the Australia Institute go public last year with the report they gave to the government two years earlier? They did that, they said, because they were frustrated that nothing had happened and nothing was happening. They made the same claims again last week in evidence to the education committee. They made it clear that things had not improved and would get worse if nothing is done. Nothing has been done and nothing is being done.

We have a 10-year plan; we have chats and conversations; we have tinkering with legislation. But let us not do anything that might actually flesh out serious weaknesses and flaws, something that may actually tell us why, despite our socio-economic profile, we are slipping. What is it that the government is so afraid our finding out? Repeating over and over that all ACT government schools are great does not in itself make it so. And when all else fails, as we have seen, the minister attacks my integrity, my honesty and my intelligence.

Because I have the nerve to call out her own flawed understanding of what equity in education means—ie, not spending $17 million on a Chromebook for every student—I do not understand. Perhaps it is she who does not understand the clear—written in black and white—findings in all the reports that I have spoken about. It cannot be any clearer. If she does understand, the only conclusion that I and the broader Canberra community can draw is that she is wilfully ignoring these findings.

Of course, the Greens have served up their usual, “I agree with you, but will not vote for you.” It is something that we have come to accept as an inevitability in this place. After all, they do need to stick with their coalition partner.

I had an email the other day from a constituent who had returned from the UK and who had enrolled his children at the local government school. He wrote to me:

Having been in the ACT government school system for one year after returning from the UK, I believe my child has gone backwards in both reading and writing.

That is pretty damning. We have the potential to make every one of our schools world class. We have the teachers, we have the socio-economic advantage and we are a


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