Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 13 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 4007..
MR SESELJA (continuing):
government decided to close their schools it took a poll in the communities, got over 50 per cent support and then decided to go ahead. Clearly, it did not. It did not. This is one more example—one more clear example—of how this government misled the community at the 2004 election in relation to their school closure plans.
Mrs Dunne's amendment is perfectly correct. It is a statement of fact. The minister could not even refute it in any way in his second 10 minutes. He was not able to refute that the people were misled. They clearly were misled. When Mr Barr talked about the processes in the Education Act, he failed to talk about the moral responsibility. A government that planned such significant changes, such massive changes, should not only have had the decency not to deny their plans prior to the election, but have had the decency to go to the people and say, "These are our plans over the next four years; this is why we think it is important; therefore support us on this basis."They did not have the courage to do that. Instead, they clearly misled the community.
This amendment should be supported. I have not heard one member get up and say why this amendment is in any way wrong. That is why it should be supported.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (5.50): In closing the debate, let me say that the debate today is important because it is about an attempt to give life to the schools that are closing—the schools that Mr Barr proposes to close on 21 December this year, in a fortnight's time. We are here today because the Liberal opposition thinks that Mr Barr should not close Cook primary and preschool, Village Creek primary school, Kambah high school and Page and Macarthur preschools, because there is no good economic reason to do so.
As we have said before, the numbers do not stack up. We are in a much better financial situation than Mr Stanhope would have had us believe last year. That is on the back of a range of factors—not, as Mr Barr jokingly seemed to suggest this morning, because we have turned the budget surplus around by $100 million because we have managed to close some schools. He did say that all the changes they made in the last budget—the school closures in the 2006-07 budget—were going to reap the government about $2 million. But suddenly, as a result of reaping that $2 million saving, we have turned around the budget by $100 million. I would like to be able to get those investment rates elsewhere.
When we look at what he has actually said here today, he has admitted failure. He said this morning that what we were doing this for was—that we have made all this money as a result of it. There were drops in enrolments; there are low fertility rates. No-one disputes the fact that the age profile of people five to 19 in the ACT has changed.
Mr Seselja: Ms Gallagher knew that.
MRS DUNNE: Ms Gallagher knew that. Dr Foskey knows that. We all know that. The question is: what is this government doing to address this? The government is giving up: in the same breath as Mr Barr said that there was a drop in enrolments and that that was brought about by low fertility rates, he said—it was the only reason he gave—that there was a drift to the non-government schools. Last year he said that one of the reasons we were going to have a renewal of government schools was to address