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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 6 Hansard (8 June) . . Page.. 1933..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

developed in consultation with clinical and other key stakeholders through the office of the Chief Health Officer.

I would again like to thank staff at the Canberra Hospital for ensuring that Canberrans receive timely and accessible cancer treatment by commissioning the replacement linear accelerator so quickly. I look forward to keeping the Assembly informed of the progress of future funding of cancer treatments in the territory.

Schools-closures

DR FOSKEY: Mr Speaker, my question is to minister Andrew Barr and it is with regard to the Towards 2020: renewing our schools document released the day before yesterday. Minister, you were asked, as your first question as minister for education, if you would undertake to work with and consult with school communities, particularly those that might be deemed at risk of closure, on the educational, financial and social impact of closing schools, before taking any decision to close them, and you said you would do so.

The 2020 paper released the day before yesterday includes statements that a number of schools and preschools will be closed at the end of this year. Could you please advise the Assembly if those school communities can have any hope that the consultation process that you have promised, through the legislation passed yesterday, could possibly result in anything other than the closure of their school at the end of this year?

MR BARR: I thank Dr Foskey for the question. Dr Foskey, I can inform you that there will be an extensive consultation process. I will just refer to the document I released earlier in the week. There are eight public meetings that begin on Monday, 19 June and continue until early July, there is a dedicated website, and there are a variety of consultation mechanisms that the government will be engaging in. This is a proposal that the government has put forward. I indicated in my speech yesterday-

Mr Stanhope: You are not spending money communicating with the people, are you, Mr Barr?

MR BARR: I could be, Chief Minister, yes. I note that the opposition have not criticised-

Mr Stanhope: They are not criticising this particular subject?

MR BARR: They are not criticising me for spending money on some consultation; no, it would appear not. In fact, they are hounding me to consult and it is something I am very happy to do.

Mr Pratt: It is a fait accompli brief, Jon.

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Pratt!

MR BARR: The proposal the government has put forward presents a variety of options, Dr Foskey, for education provision across eight regions in the territory. For the first time, it gives communities an option to discuss the possibility of middle-schooling, year 9 to 12, with a focus on vocational education and training; some seven to 12 education


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