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Labor promises to copy Blair on zones

GERMANY

AUSTRALIA'S Labor party says it will set up British-style education action zones if it is wins power in the election expected later this year.

Labor leader Kim Beazley told the party's recent annual conference in Hobart that a Labor government will take over disadvantaged schools in a multi million dollar drive to create dozens of "education priority zones".

Polling shows Labor well ahead of the conservative government of Prime Minister John Howard, especially on issues such as education and health.

Mr Beazleysaid Labor would boost spending on poorer schools. Local businesses would be urged to run fund-raising campaigns and state and municipal governments would be encouraged to earmark money for schools.

But, in return for cash, schools would have to meet strict standards and pupils would face regular tests in literacy and numeracy. "We will demand extra effort from teachers, students, parents and communities," Mr Beazley said.

Education minister Dr David Kemp called the plan a "pale reflection" of the British programme.

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