Page 5045 - Week 13 - Thursday, 29 November 2018

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seriously mistaken, the ACT government includes Education as one of its agencies, and it causes me to wonder to what extent Education falls outside a whole-of-government policy, as quoted by the minister for the arts.

The statements are nothing less than oxymoronic contradictions. The government is actually saying that the arts are not a part of education and that education has no place in the arts, much less in a whole-of-government policy. The bottom line is that the government is saying that the music engagement program has no place in government policy. The H course has fallen to exactly that fate: it has no place in government policy. The minister has, Pontius Pilate-like, washed his hands of a very successful, 30-plus-years program.

In doing so, he has created huge implications for the H course, which brings such benefits as providing students with a valuable, longstanding and highly respected music extension program, preparing the next generation of music performers—and, more importantly, teachers—for further study, offering students the opportunity to pursue advanced music study across a range of genres, and recognising the well-established benefits that music brings in terms of cognitive development and social skills. Those of us who have an interest in this have been closely following the ABC documentary program called Don’t Stop the Music, which is a shining example of just how beneficial music education is, and not just in an educative sense. Music brings to participants a whole range of cognitive pluses.

Dare I suggest, Madam Speaker, and perhaps for Mr Ramsay’s benefit, that music can be the foundation of wellbeing for the entire community, and that wellbeing should be the focus of the whole of government, including arts, and including education. But Mr Ramsay does not appreciate or understand that. He thinks the arts have no place in education and that education falls outside a whole-of-government policy. If this minister were to focus a little less on rhetoric and oxymoronic waffle and a little more on the community-wide benefits of music programs like the music engagement program and the H course, perhaps he and his government would understand a little better what whole-of-government policy actually means. Perhaps their neurones would be stimulated.

I congratulate the organisers of this petition, and I encourage them, along with the alumni and current students of the H course, to maintain the rage when it comes to making submissions to the committee that will conduct the inquiry. I also encourage them to look critically at the actions of the Greens in this place. As Ms Lee has eloquently said, they had the opportunity to stop this before it happened. The thing is that there will be a long battle to restore the H program, but once it has been closed it will be much more difficult to re-establish it than if it were to continue.

The fact is that we are here today, almost at the end of the school year, almost at the end of the academic year, and everyone on the government benches—and I can include the Greens in this—has been complacent. They have let Mr Ramsay make these changes without considering the implications and they have not taken the opportunity to review the decisions made. They have just shrugged their shoulders in an ineffectual way.

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