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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (16 August) . . Page.. 2280..

MR BARR (continuing):

feedback through the website and various email addresses. We have called for submissions, and that has been well-advertised in the media.

This is an open, transparent and extensive consultation process. Now is not the time to shift the goalposts and change the rules as Mrs Dunne proposes. It is time to get down and engage in the process at hand. This government is engaging in genuine consultation on the proposal we have put forward to the community. We have acknowledged that there are difficult issues facing our education system. That is why we are ensuring a record investment in public education to provide a world-class, sustainable education system.

I acknowledge that some community members would like more time, but others at community forums and meetings have acknowledged the difficulties this would present for some schools. They have asked, in fact, that decisions be brought forward. The government believes that schools, parents, carers and the broader community require certainty for planning the 2007 school year and future years, and therefore the government will be opposing this motion.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra-Leader of the Opposition) (5.38): In speaking to this motion, which is exactly the same amendment put at the Labor Party conference-and as we have heard, five of the current nine members of the government here voted for it-I will be the echo. I will start by echoing the points made by Mrs Dunne as to the commonsense of this particular motion.

Mr Barr talks about consultation. It is not proper consultation when you announce what you want to do and then consult. It is called putting the cart before the horse. Whatever you might say about the previous government-and I find this rather amusing-we at least engaged in consultation. It is quite interesting to see the way you people struggle to try to find a few areas where you justify your actions by, funnily enough, some of the things we were trying to do.

What we did was very different. Take, for instance, the examples given by the Chief Minister of Charnwood and Stirling. Might I remind you, Stirling is still there today as part of the Canberra College-an amalgamation which took place under us as a result of consultation before the event which lasted more than 12 months. I was going through some old Hansards today. A question Mrs Dunne asked of you, Mr Barr, in question time is interesting because Mr Corbell asked a question there of me in 1999. It reads:

Does the Minister agree that forcing young children to walk long distances to school away from their local neighbourhood is both unsafe and unwise? Does the Minister agree also that parent participation and local community involvement in schooling is facilitated by our system of neighbourhood schools and could be undermined by wholesale closure? What consultation has the Minister had with local school communities on the issue of school closures and his most recent comments?

I think that was a paper in terms of looking to the future of ACT education and talking about the possibilities of amalgamation and consultation. Here is something very different. I must say we had not heard anything like what you are saying until after 13 April, when the 2010 document was signed but seemed to go out the window. Then guess what happened: the functional review came in and, suddenly, we had that replicated in your budget of 6 June 2006.

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