Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 April 2022) . . Page.. 794 ..
surprise to me. I have seen the long and hard hours the Deputy Chief Minister has put into the pandemic response. This is a deputy chief minister who held meetings late into the evening to ensure that the homeless and most vulnerable members of our community were getting the support they needed as the Delta and Omicron variants hit. She worked closely with ministerial colleagues to help and support our community sector.
This is the Deputy Chief Minister that was criticised by the opposition when schools were closed, on expert advice, to keep teachers, staff, kids and families safe. This is the same opposition that wanted to rush teachers back into the classroom when teachers and unions were concerned about safety. This is the same opposition that sat in question time yesterday and told us they could predict when people would get COVID.
None of this comes as a surprise, though. This is the same opposition that told us that the pandemic was over and ever since has acted exactly that way. This is the same opposition that backed the Prime Minister’s attacks on worker safety, supporting the idea that workers should come back to work without any safe systems of work, notions that employers could disregard work health and safety and laws and, of course, that kids should drive forklifts. The Canberra Liberals simply do not understand workers. I will not be lectured in this place about workers’ safety when every Liberal government has attacked and undermined the rights of workers.
As I said at the start, this motion is nothing but a stunt. The record of my Deputy Chief Minister is clear. It is simply ridiculous and untrue to suggest that she does not care about workers, teachers, families, staff and our community. The same cannot be said for the current Leader of the Opposition.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (10.35): Clearly, the accounts we are reading and hearing of the student behavioural issues and the consequences at Calwell High School are very distressing. I think the details of the WorkSafe prohibition notice—and Ms Lee has gone into some detail in repeating those in this chamber this morning—make for difficult hearing and difficult reading. I think there is no dispute over that matter. As we sit here and reflect on the impact that has on staff, and that has been detailed extensively, we universally agree that staff should not be subject to those sorts of stressors. I think about the impact on students, particularly those who are the subject of some of these behaviours and for whom it can only be very frightening to be in those circumstances. Of course, it is stressful for parents and carers across that whole school community to know that those are the circumstances in their school.
In my view, Calwell High School is a good school. It is full of committed and hardworking staff. I had the fortune to visit Calwell High School during my short tenure as education minister and go through some of the things they were doing to work with their community and their students to create a strong and thriving school in what, at times, can be difficult. There are students at Calwell High School who do exhibit some challenging behaviours, so there is a real effort needed at that school to work in that environment. I know that my colleague Mr Davis has made a number of visits to the school in recent times, by invitation, to attend formal events and to meet