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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 8 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 2505..


Wednesday, 23 August 2006

MR SPEAKER (Mr Berry) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Schools—closures

Debate resumed from 16 August, on motion by Mrs Dunne:

That the ACT Government extend the consultation and decision period on school closures until the end of March 2007, and further that no school closures occur before December 2007.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (10.32): At an early morning rally outside the Labor Party conference some weeks ago, a sort of a titter went through the crowd when people suddenly got excited. The word was "Don't leave—there's an announcement coming". The announcement that came was that a motion had apparently just been passed by one of the factions calling on the government to listen to the community and extend the consultation period and that no further school closures should occur before December 2007. For those of us who were there the relief was palpable. People were excited. People suddenly thought the government was going to listen. People suddenly thought that there was an opportunity for real consultation to take place and that there was an opportunity they might be heard. Later in the day, when the vote occurred and it was very close, people were genuinely disappointed that the process was going to exclude them.

A number of people said to me that they are sick of the hypocrisy of politicians who say and do one thing in one venue and then say and do one thing in another venue. They look us in the eye and say they are on our side, go to school breakfasts and meetings and express their dismay at the consultation period, but when push comes to shove they give in and just roll over. This morning may be an opportunity for a number of members of this place who have been going to various forums to honour the commitments or the words they have been saying at primary schools, at preschools, at some high schools and at colleges across the territory.

The community is waiting. The community is listening. The community wants to know where people stand. It is not enough for members to say to the community they are really concerned about the consultation process but when they finally get an opportunity to put that into a vote in the Assembly, to go on the record, to stand up for local schools and their community, they take a different view. The community has very high expectations of members in this place. It is that hypocrisy, different views at different venues, that really angers people. The community will be looking very strongly at those members from the Labor Party, including you, Mr Speaker, and Ms Gallagher, Mr Corbell, Mr Gentleman and Ms MacDonald, who voted for these words just a couple of weeks ago, who said this is the right thing to do.

Since then we have had all this obfuscation and shifting sands. For instance, Mr Corbell urged us last week to have guts and commitment. Mr Corbell should have the guts to stand up to his faction, have the guts to tell them if he does not agree with them and vote


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