Inner City Schools Redevelopment Loans
The Hon. CATHERINE CUSACK: My question without notice is directed to the Special Minister of State, representing the Minister for Education and Training. Is the Minister aware of the Department of Education's inner city schools redevelopment loans that were drawn from the Crown Finance Entity between 2001 and 2004 and had an outstanding balance of $82.6 million as at 30 June 2004? Did the Department of Education and Training achieve its plan last year to repay $52 million of those loans through asset sales? What assets were sold to fund the repayments? How much interest was paid on the outstanding loans and how were these interest payments financed?
The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: I am not sure if we have entered a time tunnel. I think the honourable member has teleported off to the education estimates. I will get the detail of the matter that she has dealt with in her question and make it available to her at the earliest possible convenience. However, I take this opportunity to state, as a partial answer to some aspects of the honourable member's question, that in the management of the State's assets this Government has had, as did its immediate predecessor, a number of outstanding achievements in education. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] Program for International Student Assessment states that New South Wales 15-year-olds have better reading and literacy skills than students in France, Germany—
Opposition members are now saying that the actual results and outcomes in public education are not relevant. That is what they think about public education. They say it is not relevant that we get the best outcomes. The Opposition should get its mind on the game instead of on trivia. That is the problem with the Opposition's Commonwealth colleagues, who are busily destroying the secondary and tertiary education system. The Hon. Rick Colless knows it—I can tell by the expression on his face. But we are busily doing our best to deliver a world's best practice secondary education public system within the constraints placed upon us by—
The Hon. Catherine Cusack: Your Minister can't even be bothered to come here and answer questions.
The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: I will not dignify that interjection with a response.
The PRESIDENT: Order! I call the Hon. Catherine Cusack to order for the first time.
The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted by disorderly interjections, in the OECD Program for International Student Assessment, New South Wales 15-year-olds have better reading and literacy skills than students in France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway and the United States of America. The New South Wales average exceeded the outstanding results achieved by the nation as a whole.
The Hon. Melinda Pavey: What about mathematics and science?
The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: In the latest trends in mathematics and science study—and I am answering the member's interjection now—New South Wales ranked strongly in both mathematics and science in years 4 and 8. Only Singapore performed significantly better than New South Wales in science in year 8 and only Singapore and Chinese Taipei performed significantly better than New South Wales in science in year 4, with Australia and New South Wales ranked first in both year 8 mathematics and science. Those are the important outcomes.
The PRESIDENT: Order! I call the Leader of the Opposition to order for the first time.
The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: The results of the first national science test released on 1 September 2005 show New South Wales year 6 students are among the best in Australia in science literacy. Only students from the Australian Capital Territory performed better than New South Wales students, with 97.3 per cent of students meeting the expected standard in science.
The Hon. Melinda Pavey: What about internationally?
The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: The New South Wales Higher School Certificate is internationally accepted as a credential and in 2004 was taken by more than 65,000 students at 8,000 Sydney schools in classes around the State. In the past 10 years we have more than doubled the special education budget to $774 million in 2005-06—another very important aspect of our Government's policy and an issue about which this crowd on the other side of the House have done nothing. By 2007 every special class for students with a disability will have a teacher and a teacher's aide. We are closing the education gap for Aboriginal students.
The Hon. Michael Gallacher: You are not answering the question.
The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: I am answering the question and the interjection. [Time expired.]