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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 In the last 2 years, in the majority of categories, the proportions of classes with numbers over the designated size has increased very substantially. I put those figures on the record simply to indicate that the situation that was in existence only 2 years ago, where we looked very good on class sizes compared to the rest of Australia, unfortunately no longer applies. The government should no longer use those figures and that argument to justify any cutbacks in schools. We are now down to the bones. Schools have cut back. They have cut back on the services they provide, on the resources they have and on maintenance. They have cut back in every area and they have now reached the bare bone. I would appeal to the honourable minister not to inflict anv more cuts on schools. Rather, I invite him to look at some of the areas where some quite incredible things are still happening. Before I finish, I refer the honourable minister to the school at Finke. The school at Finke did not have a cleaner for the final 15 to 16 weeks of last year. It wrote to the department from about September of last year and was promised a cleaner at the beginning of this year. That has not occurred. The full-time janitor was cut down to half-time. As you may know, Mr Speaker, Finke has a 2-teacher school, but it has only 1 classroom. It is quite difficult to te~ch some 49 students, in 2 classes, using only 1 classroom. As a last resort, the storeroom was modified and has been used for the second class. However, the point has now been reached where so many people are crammed into the 1 classroom and the storeroom that, if students want to move around, they have to climb up on top of a desk and walk around on the desk tops in order to move around the classroom. Naturally, this situation has had an effect on morale at the school. In addition, people at the school find it very demanding when, at the end of a hard working day, they have to turn around and do the cleaning. Nor is this situation an isolated one. The same thing occurs at Imanpa and, given the problems that we had there last year, I hope the situation will be rectified. Mr HATTON (Nightcliff): Mr Speaker, before I deal with the subject I want principally .to tal k about tonight, I must make 1 or ? brief comments about some of the matters raised by the member for Stuart. On the question of school fees, the honourable member made a strong plea on behalf of the poor in the community for dispensation to be provided for them in recognition of the embarrassment .caused to people through having to come forward and say that they cannot afford to. pay the fees and require special action to be taken to assist them. I can understand that situation. I think most people can, to an extent. However, the honourable member must address the other problem that faces school councils. We should all remember that it is the parents, through the school councils, who set the fees and make the rules, and the spending of that money is determined substantially by the school councils. That is why there are such big differences between schools. That is always forgotten. If the honourable member opposite wants to say that parents should have less say over those issues, then let him stand up and say that to the parents who work very hard in the schools and who have been pressing government to allow them to have more say in the education of their children and in how the schools run, and how the school budgets spent. The honourable member needs to recognise that a school's fees are set by its council, which also substantially determines the allocation and expenditure that money. Generally, the rules are set by the parents, through the school council. He 5610