Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 4 Hansard (30 March) . . Page.. 1320..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
said, enterprise bargaining agreements which, like it or not, we have to negotiate every couple of years, and they change.
MS DUNDAS (5.27): We will not be supporting the three amendments that Mr Pratt has moved. The Democrats are not opposed in principle to his amendment No 4. The way the amendment is worded makes it too inflexible to be put into legislation, does not really take into account the size of the school, how different schools operate and whether legislating for the requirement of a bursar and deputy principal is the best thing to do.
We have already discussed the concerns about character development being legislated for in the Education Bill when we looked at Mr Pratt's first amendment. Perhaps we should look at this in a little more depth. Maybe we should have a discussion about what kind of character Mr Pratt thinks would be achieved by having this in the legislation. If this had been in the legislation 30 years ago, what kinds of characters would we have been building in ACT schools before the Sex Discrimination Act and the equal employment opportunity legislation changed-before there had really been any widespread social change as to how we counted females and males in the community?
For decades, schools told young women that they would not be able to get jobs because it would have been against the law. If it was not against the law, then it would have been inappropriate for them to do so. Times change and character changes and what we expect of our society and our community is continually evolving. I think these limits are a tad too prescriptive and do not really address Mr Pratt's concerns.
Amendment No 6 talks about the obligations we need to put on principals and teachers. I agree that there are some questions to be asked about how teachers can be included in this legislation, but I recognise that it is a quite difficult concept because of the continuing certified agreement negotiations which need to happen, and which impact quite significantly on teachers. I do not think Mr Pratt's amendments will fix the problem of how teachers can be more included in education legislation. That is something we need to look at in the future, with greater discussions with the P&C and the Australian Education Union.
Some of the amendments Mr Pratt has proposed would establish dangerous precedents, specifically those in relation to recruitment powers. They would undermine the mobility policies we have here in the ACT and the oversight of system wide standards and do not protect teachers against so-called bad principals. We are trying to give principals the power to work against and weed out bad teachers, but what is being done to make sure we do not have bad principals? What right of review has been built in? It is all very unclear in the amendments that Mr Pratt has put forward. I think there is a lot more work to be done in relation to teachers, but it is not something that is in the scope of this legislation. I will not be supporting the amendments put forward by Mr Pratt.
MR STEFANIAK (5.31): I rise to support of a couple of points Mr Pratt has raised. I will not speak to the whole plethora of amendments. I think Ms Dundas has got it wrong on amendment No 5-"contributing to the character development of all students". Over time there are some basic concepts of character which are important. Any reasonable person in our community would want our young people to grow up to be useful, productive and decent members of society-people who are honest, who can live in a