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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 3 Hansard (9 March) . . Page.. 899..


MR CORNWELL (continuing):

You claim that your ministerial statement on 11 December was inadvertently incorrect. Why did you fail to correct the record when you had the opportunity on 11 December rather than waiting for two months to correct your statement in this place?

MS GALLAGHER: I think perhaps the question is-

Mr Quinlan: Stupid.

MS GALLAGHER: I am grappling with the question I must say. I think the question asked why I didn't stand immediately and address it. Well, I can tell you that, from the two-page brief that I had, I did not understand the issues completely. It said that the department is breaching section 162 (2) of the act, that you note this information and you note measures in place to address it. Some time that afternoon-perhaps after question time, after presentation of papers-I spoke to the Chief Minister in the anteroom. I do not have the exact time that that conversation occurred, but it was somewhere in the vicinity of 4.30 and 5. At the time I did not know the relationship of that advice to the government's response. It was not mentioned in the response. The response related to recommendations of the committee report, not to section 162 (2) of the act. I did not understand it at the time. Once I sought the additional advice from the department, which I received, I think, around 13 January, as to what the content of that brief to me of the 11th was, I subsequently mentioned it in my ministerial statement and also advised the Assembly that we would be reworking the government's response to that report.

Schools-broadband internet access

MS MacDONALD: My question is to the Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services and it relates to broadband internet access in ACT government schools. This is a very important issue. What is the situation for schools in Gungahlin, bearing in mind the problems that householders in the area are experiencing getting access to this important technology?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms MacDonald for her interest in this area. As members would be aware, Gungahlin residents have had inadequate access to the internet, particularly broadband. As well there has been inadequate mobile phone reception in the Gungahlin area. This government has been working on those issues. As members know, Telstra will be building an exchange so that those services are improved.

However, in the meantime, contrary to what the opposition spokesperson on education says, a core element of learning in the year 2004 and beyond is access to online learning. Gungahlin schools have been disadvantaged in comparison to other schools in Canberra because they have not been able to have the suitable level of internet access and speed of access that other schools have had.

But from the start of the 2004 school year, government schools in the Gungahlin region have access to a new information and communications technology infrastructure with the help of TransACT connection, for the first time enabling wireless broadband service. There are four schools that have received this connection: Gold Creek school, Ngunnawal primary, Palmerston district primary and Amaroo school. It will provide


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