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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 13 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 3930..


MRS DUNNE (continuing):

that were put forward in the consultation and things that have been decided to be implemented as a result of the so-called consultation are still unproved and they were contrary to existing ACT government policy.

The projected savings, the substance of this motion today, were too small at roughly two per cent of the ACT education budget and are possibly illusory. They are so small they do not justify the disruption caused to individual students, their parents, the teaching community and the wider community. The consultation process that the minister put in place was superficial and was only there to justify a fait accompli. The extent of the changes was so radical, so disruptive, that it was likely to increase the drift from the government school sector.

At no stage did we say that there should not be school closures. We proposed a different model; one where the community had a stake in the decision and understood the decision. The ACT Liberal Party attempted to amend the Education Act to improve and strengthen the consultation process and to reinsert the guidelines compiled under the previous Liberal minister for education Bill Stefaniak and the P&C council, which officials and representatives of the previous minister told the P&C council were unnecessary to be put back into the legislation because there were no proposals to close schools. I was told that—I was given that same information in a briefing—at the time the Education Act came into operation in January 2005. In addition to this, the experiences that I had as the shadow minister for education and as the member for Ginninderra, and that my colleagues have had, in dealing with school communities that were closed, the experiences of school communities in relation to FOI and AD(JR) have shown that the process was wrong and a flawed one.

As a result of this, on 6 December 2007, one year ago tomorrow, the ACT Liberal Party proposed an alternative response to Towards 2020 and we made particular undertakings which I think it is timely to restate here. We proposed the cancellation of closures and restructures scheduled for December 2008. This means that immediately upon coming to government in 2008 a Liberal government will cancel and consult about any proposed restructurings and they will not go ahead unless the community is agreement with them. This means that Narrabundah primary school will not be converted to a P-2 school unless the community wants that to happen. Therefore the Aboriginal programs that work there have a chance of continuing.

Lyons primary school: if the community wants to continue with its bilingual Italian immersion program it will be able to do so on the site where it has been successfully operating for the past four years. Fadden primary school and Southern Cross primary schools will not become P-2 schools unless the community wants that to happen. We will conduct discussions with the Higgins and Holt communities about the future of their schools in the light of the building of the new west Belconnen superschool and the changes to Melba high school and Copland college will be fully consulted by an incoming Liberal government.

We have undertaken to reinstate schools closed under Towards 2020 in certain circumstances. The Liberal Party will commit to working with communities wherever possible to reinstate schools closed in 2006 and 2007 as a result of Towards 2020. We will establish, in consultation with the community, criteria which include things like the educational, social, demographic, financial and environmental factors for


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