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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 11 Hansard (22 September) . . Page.. 3540..


MS PORTER (continuing):

same as your language. She is just mimicking you in talking about a superschool, but she has admitted that a superschool it is not. It will not be a superschool, of course. Mr Stefaniak is jumping on the bandwagon as well with the superschool rhetoric.

We know that it is not a superschool. All you want to do is to paint it as a monolith, a monster, rather than being four schools on the one campus, which will provide to the young people of west Belconnen the most brilliant educational opportunity that we can possibly offer. Somehow you want to paint it as some kind of monster that will gobble up our children. What rubbish! What about the opposition, Dr Foskey? What is this opposition, Mrs Dunne? I have attended most of the meetings that you have attended, Mrs Dunne; in fact, probably all the meetings that you have attended.

It being 45 minutes after the commencement of Assembly business, the debate was interrupted in accordance with standing order 77. Ordered that the time allotted to Assembly business be extended by 30 minutes.

MS PORTER: I have stood outside and inside many shopping centres in the west Belconnen area for a number of weeks running my mobile offices-on Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays for many weeks-and what have I heard? I have heard some members of our community expressing some concern, but mainly they are in favour. Even those expressing concern are not totally against the concept; they just want to know how it is to work and they want answers to their questions, which is fair enough. Of course they want answers to their questions and they are getting answers to their questions.

I field phone calls and get emails, too, and, in the main, they are supportive. I am not convinced that there is opposition out there. I am convinced that there is only a handful of parents left who are concerned. I am convinced that young people were distressed initially and were experiencing some form of grief. What do people do when they are experiencing grief? They want to blame, they want to question, and they want to get angry. When there is talk about closing a school and when there is talk about change, there are reasons for people to get upset. But people are now looking rationally at the options and are looking rationally at what this proposal will offer them: four schools on the one campus and excellent educational opportunities. They are not coming to me and telling me that they do not want this school. In fact, they are saying to me, "Let's stop this discussion. We do not want any more discussion. Please stop discussing it. We are sick of that. We want to get on with it. We want to build this school."

Another thing they are saying to me is, "Can't you tell Mrs Dunne to stop? Can't you tell Mrs Dunne just to leave it alone?"These are students, these are parents of young people at that school and these are parents of other young people at other schools in the west Belconnen area that are concerned that you are undermining the education system in the whole of the ACT, not just west Belconnen, and they want you to stop, Mrs Dunne. This motion is not going to help that. We do not want to continue to talk about it and they do not want to continue to talk about it; they just want to get on with it.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (11.35), in reply: Unfortunately, in this debate the Chief Minister had nothing new to say. He read his pre-prepared speech, prepared by officials in the department of education, and tended to dwell on things in a way that showed that he was not listening to the debate and was not listening to what was being put forward


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