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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 1 Hansard (10 February) . . Page.. 121..


Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The Assembly met at 10 am.

(Quorum formed.)

MR SPEAKER (Mr Rattenbury) took the chair and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Education (Suspensions) Amendment Bill 2010

Mr Doszpot, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR DOSZPOT (Brindabella) (10.03): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Members may get a sense of deja vu here today. The bill that I present today is, indeed, largely similar to a previous bill tabled by the minister and the same as a bill I attempted to present late last year. This bill will give our ACT school principals the same autonomy, the same decision-making capacity, that their counterparts in the independent school systems in the ACT and all the New South Wales schools already enjoy. In the interests of intrajurisdictional parity in the ACT and interjurisdictional parity with New South Wales and in an effort to resolve the issue once and for all, I table this version at the start of a new year here today.

The minister's actions yesterday do warrant some attention in my presentation speech here today. There was absolutely no need to play his game of one-upmanship. I have indicated to the government on numerous occasions that the opposition is willing to come to the table to discuss a way forward on the detail of the bill. We have indicated our willingness on previous occasions to negotiate in the interest of the ACT schools community. However, it does seem that dialogue with Minister Barr's office is nigh on impossible. Our recent history in this place confirms this view.

The minister deems it unnecessary to liaise with the opposition and the crossbench, and, to coin a phrase, has opposed our attempts to bring this bill before the Assembly for opposition's sake. There is no logical reason for that, except perhaps not trusting our ACT school principals to be able to make the same decisions within their schools that their counterparts in the independent school systems in the ACT and all of the New South Wales schools have been given.

The bottom line is that principals would like to see their powers in regard to suspension enhanced. Principals have indicated to me that they would be happy with an increase that would enable them to better engage with the students that need to be brought back into the school community, and five days is simply not enough for this, according to the principals. Ten days would enhance their ability in this regard, but


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