Territory Stories

Parliamentary record : Part I debates (16 February 1989)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (16 February 1989)


Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Thursday 16 February 1989 Mr EDE: The member for Koolpinyah may never have been poor enough in her life to realise what it is like when you do not know when the welfare money will arrive and for that to be a matter of fear. Mrs Padgham-Purich: I was poor mate, and so was my mother. Mr EDE: She obviously lived in a different situation to that which I lived in and which some people live in now if she does not know enough to be able to empathise with people who are so poor that they have to go to people in authority and confess their poverty and inability to be the same as other people. Mr Speaker, my point is that, if a blanket exemption is to be given to people who cannot pay their fees, why is there a restriction on borrowing books in the first place? Why not just let those people go in and get their library books? Quite apart from that, why are we using restrictions on borrowing books from school libraries as a penalty for people who do not pay their school fees? Surely, we still have sufficient belief in a free education system not to deny people access to library books! I really hope that the honourable minister will do something about this situation. I intend to hold him to what he said this morning, and I will quote him: 'As I said, as far as the government is concerned, we will ensure the students have access to the necessary materials which enable them to carry out their activities and enjoy all the opportunities available to them through our education system in the Territory'. Given what he has said during the previous couple of days, that may sound as if he is playing with words, in that he did not say, as I asked him to, that he would guarantee people access to their libraries. However, I hope that we can read into his words that he will do that. There is one other point that I would like to make and it concerns class sizes in the Northern Territory. For some years, it was a matter of pride among people associated with education that the Northern Territory compared very well with other places in Australia in terms of the sizes of its classes and the number of teachers in schools. Successive ministers have spoken of it as something which we should all be proud of and they have used it in response to arguments. In fact, this morning, the honourable minister used the same argument. The fact is, however, a survey carried out for the Australian Teachers Federation by a South Australian group compared figures between 1986 and 1988 and demonstrated that, while our figures used to compare very well with the states, we are worse off now than we were just 2 years ago. The proportion of classes containing more than 20 students was just 50% 2 years ago. Now it is 65%. At the infant level in primary schools, classes with more than 25 students have risen from 11% 2 years ago to 23% now. At the general primary school level, the proportion of classes with more than 20 students has risen from 67% 2 years ago to 70% now. At the same level, the proportion of classes with more than 25 students has risen from 27% to 39%. At the junior secondary level, 2 years ago, just over 70% of classes had more than 20 students but now the figure is over 92%. The proportion with more than 25 in a class 2 years ago was only about 42% and is now over 57%. At the senior senior secondary level, the proportion of classes with more than 20 students was 44% 2 years ago and has now risen to 52%. I am told that we had better luck in 1 category, which is the percentage of classes with over ?5 students in Northern Territory schools. That has fallen from 14.5% to 2%. Finally, the percentage of classes with more than 30 students was nil 2 years ago and is now 2%. 5609