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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 9 Hansard (20 September) . . Page.. 2920..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

of dollars that it does not need to cost us. We could be investing that into education and government service delivery, but most notably into education.

To suggest that we, through the arrangements that apply, are not meeting our obligation to ensure that every child has access to the best quality education that we can possibly provide is simply not credible. Those that oppose this policy need to come to the table with an alternative policy. They need to step up and say what they would do. There has been no attempt, through this debate, to do that. Neither the Greens nor the Liberals have said, "This is what we would do."

Mr Gentleman: Or "this is how much money we would spend".

MR STANHOPE: "This is how much money we would spend. This is how we would spend it. These are the outcomes we would seek to achieve."They are simply stoppers and spoilers seeking political advantage through stunts reflected in motions of this sort.

Opposition members interjecting—

MR STANHOPE: We all do it. It is the business we are in. But be honest about it. You will be revealed for the opportunists that you are in relation to this issue. We see that most notably, of course, when we reflect on the words of the Leader of the Opposition—the leader of the Liberal Party—in relation to his attitude to his then government's proposal to close schools and his hypocrisy, and the hypocrisy of the Liberal Party and the Greens, is exposed.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra—Leader of the Opposition) (11.10): I heard the word "hypocrisy". It certainly cuts both ways. I have not heard such dribble for quite some time. It is rich to hear the Chief Minister say, "It is all right to close 39 schools. This is essential for our budget. It is essential for the future."Until after 13 April this year, this government showed no inclination it was going to take this draconian step. One only has to go back to that document signed by Katy Gallagher, The Way Forward, which talked about six public forums, none of which remotely mentioned closing schools, let alone closing 39 schools.

This quite clearly is a policy that the government has come up with some time between 13 April and 6 June, when it launched its decision. You only have to look at the Towards 2020 document to see a document that was cobbled together quickly and a document that tries to justify what the government is doing by coming up with about eight different varieties of schooling—it was cobbled together probably on a Sunday afternoon—some of them so terribly, terribly illogical. The community has seen right through that.

I thank the Chief Minister for the history lesson. He might also remember, if he delves into history, in 1995, when we became the government and were so for seven years, we went to the electorate with a policy of not closing any schools except as a matter of last resort and not until after talking extensively with the community. The facts speak for themselves. The economic situation we inherited in 1995 was far worse than what you have now. We had a useless, defunct federal Labor government. We inherited a huge deficit from you lot. It took us four budgets to get our house in order. Now you are squandering that. You have the temerity to say that you are doing this responsibly, realising just how bad the budget is. I find that quite amazing.


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