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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 13 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 3929..

MRS DUNNE (continuing):

(1) notes:

(a) the extent of new expenditure in Appropriation Bill 2007-2008 (No 2); and

(b) the limited saving to be made from closing the ACT government schools listed for closure in December 2007; and

(2) calls on the ACT government to halt all school closures proposed for December 2007.

For the last 18 months school communities across Canberra have been thrown into turmoil by the Stanhope government's so-called school renewal process known as Towards 2020. At the end of this month Canberrans will see the closure of Cook, Page and Macarthur preschools, Cook and Village Creek primary schools and Kambah high school. This is part of the 23-strong school closures announced almost a year ago.

The Stanhope government lied about school closures during the last election.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Withdraw that please.

MRS DUNNE: I withdraw that. The Stanhope government misled the community during the last election about closing schools and has had no mandate for the planned closure of the 24 schools that it has now put in train. One of the many questions that I was asked during the consultation last year was, "Why did the government lie to us about school closures before the last election and where does the mandate come from?"

The answer is clear: there was no such mandate. Far from declaring its intention to close schools it went out of its way during the last election to assert the opposite. Clearly it was convenient for the Labor Party to mislead Canberrans in the run-up to the last election. The closure of Ginninderra district high school, which was announced almost two years ago, had just been a softening up for bigger changes. To close one school after such an undertaking might be seen as a lapse which the community might get over, but to close another 20 or more has been a complete gutting of the public education system.

From the outset the Canberra Liberals opposed the Towards 2020 school renewal process and we did this for very sound reasons. There was virtually no information available to explain the reasons for the proposal, and this is still the case today, given the fact that within the last half-hour I have introduced legislation that comes out of my experiences and the experiences of other members of the community in trying to obtain information about the school closure process and the experience of communities who have been trying to get answers under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act as to why their schools were closed.

There is some doubt as to whether the minister complied with the legislation because he did not make individual decisions on individual schools but made generic decisions about school closures. In addition to that, the models for the different age groupings

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