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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (28 February) . . Page.. 364..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

The government's position on protecting the environment is very strong, and the need to make sure that such protection is put into the Territory Plan is well understood. We moved the Gungahlin town centre to protect the grasslands. We will be doing some work that will assure the future of Jerrabomberra. The ecological communities there would not allow development there. Work has been done to put out a draft variation to put 100 hectares of yellow box/red gum back into the reserve system. This would be treated in the same way.

The government does not have any difficulty with the proposal, simply because it is what the government intends to do anyway.

MS TUCKER (11.29), in reply: I welcome the support for my motion.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Government schools-cooling and heating infrastructure

MR BERRY (11.30): I move:

That the Department of Education accept responsibility for the cooling and heating infrastructure for government schools.

This motion has arisen in the wake of quite a lot of community activity about Gordon Primary School and the effect that the recent bout of hot weather is having on the safety, welfare and education of kids in our schools. But it does not stop there; it also goes to the issue of this government's approach to school-based management and the attacks that have been made in the media on the prudent saving of money by schools in their cash holdings.

Mr Speaker, the issue around the Gordon Primary School is a recent one, but there was an earlier one in relation to another primary school which was raised with a committee of this Assembly when it was reported that there were 40-degree temperatures in one of the classrooms. That was last June, I think, and the committee subsequently made recommendations to the government on doing something about that. It was not until the issue raised its head again at the Gordon Primary School that we realised that the government had not done much.

Members of the government will rise to their feet today and say that the government has been conducting a review. I think that the conducting of the review is more of a smokescreen to get out of making a decision in relation to the matter. So far as Gordon Primary School is concerned, and I am quoting from a press release from the parents and citizens association, there are eight portable classrooms and they were told by the minister that to cool the school down they should open windows. That is all right if it is not hotter outside than it is inside. It was just a flippant remark that the minister probably now regrets having made, because it did not address the issues that these kids were facing.

At the demonstration just last week where, for the first time in my memory, kids were taken out of school to protest to the Department of Education and Community Services over facilities, I had a chance to talk to some of the kids and I was quite surprised at


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