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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (16 August) . . Page.. 2207..


MR BARR: I am happy to receive these petitions, as is the usual practice of the Assembly.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo-Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Planning) (10.47): As my colleague Mr Barr indicated, the arguments put forward by the Liberal Party on this issue are the same arguments that were put forward yesterday. Just because a petition is received by this place does not mean it is ignored by this place. As my colleague indicated, issues concerning the receipt of petitions will be considered carefully by this government.

This government is not afraid of the consultation process. A six-month consultation process is under way right now. My colleague fronted up to every meeting and remained until the conclusion of each meeting to answer questions asked by everyone relating to the government's proposals to renew public schools. He has shown a commitment to engage in ongoing dialogue. There is no reason for anyone to suggest that petitions will be ignored in any way.

Mr Barr has demonstrated that commitment. He has been to all the meetings and he has stayed until the end. Everyone else went home but he was still there talking to residents, explaining the issues, hearing their questions and trying to counter, address and reconcile their concerns. Those are the actions of a minister and a government that are committed to engaging in dialogue. These are difficult decisions for our city and they are tough issues for us to address.

The sort of grandstanding we saw yesterday and this morning from Mrs Dunne do opposition members no credit. Mrs Dunne's motion and Liberal Party grandstanding serve to highlight their failure to have a clear policy on how to renew public education in this city. They are the carrion crows of this Assembly, quite happy to stay around the margins, pick at the issues and highlight flaws in every process. But they failed unequivocally to tackle the main issue, which is: What would they do if they were in government? How would they tackle the challenges facing our public education system? That is the issue.

Mr Smyth: Point of order. My point of order relates to relevance. This motion is about the referral of petitions to a committee.

MR SPEAKER: Order! I have already said that this motion is to refer petitions relating to proposed school closures to a committee. Mr Smyth's point of order is that this motion is about referring petitions to a committee. I think we should stick to the subject matter. To this point there has been fairly wide-ranging debate. Let us come back to the subject matter.

MR CORBELL: Opposition members have again failed to highlight on what grounds these petitions should be referred to a committee. The committee has no reference. The committee would not add anything that has not already been dealt with in the government's public consultation process and in debates in this place. That is where these issues can and will be tackled. The government has received petitions from a large number of residents. We will take them into account and we will look at specific issues that have been raised in them.


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