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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 13 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 4005..


Dr Foskey: It is the process.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Just a moment, Mr Barr. Dr Foskey, you are becoming unusually radical.

Dr Foskey: I am. I'm not radical, am I?

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Would you just be a little bit quieter. Carry on, Mr Barr.

MR BARR: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I note Dr Foskey's views on the process, but no-one is arguing; even Mrs Dunne has agreed that we needed to make a change. I think Dr Foskey is the only one who believes that a school can never close. I am not sure that I have heard her say on the record that sometimes schools might have to close.

Dr Foskey: I said it before. I guess you weren't listening.

MR BARR: Well, they do. I am pleased to hear that. So even Dr Foskey agrees. So across all parties in this place there is a view that sometimes schools have to close. We have a violent disagreement, clearly, over what the process should be. Fine. People put forward amendments to the Education Act. They were not accepted by the Assembly. We have the Education Act and it gives the process. It says six months of consultation. The minister must put forward a proposal; the community then debates it. That is the process. That is the legislative process and that is the process that I followed. I do not think that anyone would accuse me of not fronting up time after time to discuss why and to discuss in detail with individual school communities the issues that we were confronted with.

Mr Deputy Speaker, in your contribution you raised the issue of the Kambah schools. Again, I respond to that quite simply: the school age population in Kambah has reduced by nearly half in the last 10 years. From when those schools were established with student populations of nearly 700 they have gone to the situation they were in in 2006 with some that struggled to get to 150 enrolments. If you have got four government primary schools with a combined enrolment of about 600 to 700 students and a government high school with 300 in one area and another government high school two kilometres down the road with 350 students, something has to give.

The question is: how do you respond to that? This government has invested $54 million in a new facility that will cater from preschool to year 10. Yes, we will be combining Village Creek primary school, Mount Neighbour primary school and Urambi primary school plus the former Kambah high into one school. We hope to address the fact that 60 per cent of students who lived in Kambah in the priority enrolment area for that high school went to another high school: they did not go to Kambah. We would like the students in Kambah to go to their local school. That would be terrific. We believe that, with a brand-new $54 million school, we have a much greater chance of attracting those enrolments. That is why there is a $54 million investment in Kambah.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (5.44): I will be supporting Mrs Dunne's amendment, quite simply because it is a plain statement of fact. The amendment "notes that the


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