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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 3247..

DR FOSKEY: I beg your pardon. Of course it is political, as is just about everything we do in our lives. Schools have become a very political topic. I think we could clear the air a lot if we saw a decent cost-benefit analysis. Then we would really know what we are talking about.

Question put:

That Dr Foskey's motion be agreed to.

The Assembly voted-

Ayes 7

Noes 8

Mrs Dunne

Mr Seselja

Mr Barr

Mr Gentleman

Dr Foskey

Mr Smyth

Mr Berry

Mr Hargreaves

Mr Mulcahy

Mr Stefaniak

Mr Corbell

Ms MacDonald

Mr Pratt

Ms Gallagher

Ms Porter

Question so resolved in the negative.

Education Amendment Bill 2006 (No 3)

Debate resumed from 16 August 2006, on motion by Mrs Dunne:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR BARR (Molonglo-Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation and Minister for Industrial Relations) (4.46): The government will be opposing this piece of legislation, as we believe it does nothing constructive to help school communities or the public education sector. The bill seeks to allow the AAT to overturn executive decisions, something the AAT was never set up to do. It proposes to delay all school closures until 2008, regardless of the views of the community, and it seeks to put in place a new set of consultation guidelines changing those already agreed to by this Assembly as recently as June this year.

Section 20 of the Education Act 2004 gives the legal power to the minister to establish schools and preschools. It gives power to name or change the names of schools, and it gives power to the minister to close or amalgamate schools following a legislated consultation period.

The act recognises that such decisions are of great importance to the territory and that the most appropriate person to make those decisions is the minister of the day. Decisions around school closure or amalgamation are significant policy decisions for the ACT. Thus the minister of the day, after a mandated consultation period of six months, is well informed and entitled under the legislation to make the decisions.

It is preposterous to suggest that the Administrative Appeals Tribunal would have the power to question or overturn the decision of the minister of the day. Let us reflect on the role of the AAT in a rational way. Why would the AAT, which is more suited to dealing with the decision making of officers within the public service, hold jurisdiction over

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