Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 6 Hansard (23 June) . . Page.. 2282..
Education Amendment Bill 2008
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (3.18) I thank members for the opportunity to speak on this important bill. The issue of school closures is one that has been close to my heart for a long time, and amendments to try and make the process of school closures, when they become necessary, more transparent, more accountable and more responsive to the needs of the people of the ACT are also close to my heart. During the 2005-06 period, I moved on two separate occasions various amendments which, to some extent at a superficial level, looked pretty much like the amendments that were suggested by Ms Hunter in her second iteration of amendments to the Education Act.
They were superficially similar, and, for a while there, I think that some of my colleagues thought that Ms Hunter's proposal might warrant support. But when you look into the detail of it, I think that what Mr Doszpot said before the luncheon break is absolutely correct-the proposals being brought forward today by Ms Hunter do not actually make it any more difficult for the minister to close a school and do not actually put any further requirements on a minister. What has been proposed by Ms Hunter is a set of steps, none of which the minister has to have any mind of when he actually makes the decision to close a school. So we are still in the situation that, if we implement the legislation as proposed here today, we will have a sham consultation.
I think we need to have a look at the history of this. This bill in its original form was introduced in the first effective sitting week of this Assembly back in November 2008. What was proposed then was long and drawn out, and I do not think that anyone had any great deal of support for it. There have since been-what is it, Mr Doszpot-three sets of amendments of various sorts that have been circulated, and it is clear that, now that the government is proposing to support this, there must be something wrong with it.
In 2005 and again in 2006, when I was supported by Dr Foskey, when I made suggestions for improving the consultation process in relation to school closures, the relevant ministers, Ms Gallagher and Mr Barr, opposed those. If Ms Hunter was doing what I was proposing to do back in 2005 and 2006, there is no way that Andrew Barr could stand here today and say that he would support this motion, because he would be performing yet another turnaround in policy. It would be yet another Barr flip.
Over the course of the 2006 Towards 2020 debate, Mr Barr steadfastly refused to listen to the community on this issue, and he is now agreeing with all of these things. The Greens have to think very seriously about this. If Andrew Barr is prepared to support this legislation today, I think they have been sold a pup, and I think the people of the ACT have been sold a pup. The people that I have spoken to outside this place who have looked at this bill know that the Greens have been sold a pup.
It is quite clear that, if you go through the processes, yes, you can establish a committee that looks at all of these things, but the minister does not have to take