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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (16 August) . . Page.. 2208..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Those petitions will be dealt with when the government commences consultation on its Towards 2020 document. Those are the steps of a government that is informed, that is listening and that is prepared to engage in consultation. We have put forward a proposal, we want people's feedback on that proposal and we will listen to those issues. The sort of grandstanding we saw from Mrs Dunne yesterday and today does not add anything to the debate. It might get her head on the television, which might be great for her, but it does not assist in addressing the key challenge we are facing in this place, that is, how best to renew our public education system and make it stronger in the future.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (10.51): Mrs Dunne moved, under standing order 99, that petitions relating to school closures be referred to a committee. Mr Barr said we should not do that because when members of the Labor Party were in opposition they did not do that. Obviously they did not do it because they had not read their standing orders. It is open to all members of the Assembly to refer petitions to a committee because that is provided for in our standing orders.

Government members should also read standing order 84, which provides for petitions to be presented in other ways, for example, during debate. Standing orders enable that to occur and it is entirely appropriate for us to do so. The issue seems to be whether the government will read those petitions and act on them. When the Clerk read one of the petitions tabled by Dr Foskey I heard him state these words, "A comprehensive review of all local government schools will be undertaken."

The wish of all those who signed that rather large petition was for a comprehensive review to be undertaken of all government schools. Mr Barr is saying either that the government has undertaken a comprehensive review of all government schools, which is why it does not have to refer the petition to the Standing Committee on Education, Training and Young People to inquire, or that the government has not undertaken a review.

We are happy to give Mr Barr leave to table any comprehensive review that the government has done, but we know that he cannot do so because there is none. We have seen four or five flimsy bits of paper and little charts that have been hidden in the bowels of the government's web page, but there is no government review. If there were such a review I am sure that the minister would have tabled it and he would have used it as evidence to back up his case.

If there is no such review it is more than appropriate for us, as good representatives of the people who signed that petition and others, to refer the matter to the education committee so that it can look at them. Members might be wondering why we want to send these petitions to a committee. A resolution of the Assembly on 7 December 2004 states:

That a Standing Committee on Education, Training and Young People be established to examine matters related to early childhood education and care, primary, secondary, post secondary and tertiary education and vocational training, non-government education, youth and family services, technology, arts and culture, sport and recreation.

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