Page 797 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 6 April 2022

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Ms Lee: It is not working.

MR RATTENBURY: accept the analysis that the minister has not been paying attention here. Ms Lee interjects, saying that it is not working. Clearly, it has been a difficult incident. I intended to conclude my remarks—and Ms Lee has sought to beat me to it—by stating that we need to be clear that we welcome the measures that have been taken, but clearly we are concerned by the reports we have seen and the specifics of this incident and the pressures that the school is under as a result of the pandemic-related staff shortages and the pressures that we are seeing in our community.

We expect ongoing focus and ongoing effort to be directed particularly to this school, because this is the one we are discussing today. Clearly, across the system there are pressures as well and this cannot be all about Calwell High School. We need to keep an eye on our schools across the system, but as we are debating this one today I make the point that we clearly need ongoing, focused effort here. I have confidence that the minister will ensure that that takes place, and on that basis we will not be supporting this motion today.

MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (10.45): I commend this motion to the Assembly. Obviously, my colleagues and I fully support it. We do so on behalf of the children at that school who have been bullied, threatened and subjected to violence, and the kids in the LSU who have been called “spastics” and “retards”. We do so on behalf of the parents who are sending their kids, in good faith, to an ACT public school and who have had the facts hidden from them, who had to find out about this in the media, and who were not even aware of the violence of the mobs, the attacks, the drugs, the knives and the other weapons. We do so on behalf of the teachers who have been pleading and calling out for support, who have been demanding that action be taken and who have reached a point where they, through their union, in desperation, have called in WorkSafe because their school is not safe.

The minister said that it is her job to keep the school safe. Calwell is not a bad school, but it is not a safe school. It is not us saying that; it is the WorkSafe regulator who has issued a protection order, and it is the union that has said that. If we have a minister who, despite the pleas of the union and the staff for months—and we know that this issue was first raised over nine months ago—through her actions or inactions, through her negligence, has failed to keep teachers and students safe, that is a level of failure that cannot be tolerated.

It is not a level of failure that we should accept, as members of this Assembly—and certainly not when teachers have been saying, “This school is falling apart; we need your help as it will become unsafe.” It is not a level that parents should be required to accept, when their kids are not safe. It is not a level that we should expect from a minister when teachers are not safe. There is a chasm between the fluffy words in this place spoken by the minister, Minister Gentleman and Mr Rattenbury, and the reality on the ground. Between what they say in this place about what they are doing, what is happening and their vision, and what the reality is on the ground, there is a chasm.

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