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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 May 1995) . . Page.. 350 ..


I am aware that the government school system already has an appeals mechanism and that its policy on student management provides sound mandatory procedures for transfer, exclusion and expulsion. I am very pleased and proud that these procedures are part of government school policy. I also applaud the Catholic system’s move to put an appeals board into operation. However, this leaves quite a few schools with no appeals mechanism. They appear to be setting themselves above the law and legal processes. The board of review proposed in this Bill will have the capacity, upon application by a student or parent, to examine the decision made by the school, to determine whether or not it was fair and to remit for reconsideration any decision that was considered unfair. This Bill represents the culmination of extensive public consultation which took place in 1992. In September 1992 an exposure draft was circulated to all schools and relevant bodies for comment. This Bill has substantially the same effect as the exposure draft that was circulated but has been simplified and further revised to make its language a little easier to understand.

Responses at the time to the exposure draft ranged from eager support - from government sectors and certainly from students, from both government and independent schools - to outrage and indignation from some independent executives. I find it interesting that the most outraged of responses in the past have come from the very sectors that purport to offer the highest levels of education. They are certainly the most expensive. They would deny their own charges a basic democratic right - the right to challenge a decision that will severely affect them for many years to come. Does this same educational philosophy then demand unquestioning acceptance of a curriculum and educate young people to be submissive and not to defend themselves? There is a fundamental question here, Mr Speaker, about the way we see education. I would have thought that the members of this Assembly, as part of their view of education, would hold very high the educating of young people about what is involved in their democracy and their justice system.

Mr Speaker, even when a Supreme Court judge makes a decision that will have a major impact on somebody's life, such a decision is open to an appeal process. That appeal process often finds that the decision was appropriate in the first place. I would accept that, should this piece of legislation be adopted by the Assembly - and I hope that it will be considered in a more calm and open way by this Assembly than was the case with its outright rejection by the previous Assembly - - -

Mr Berry: It was not rejected. You did not bring it on.

MR MOORE: Mr Berry says that it was not rejected. That is correct. In fact, the Bill was never brought on for debate because, from discussions that I had personally, it was quite clear that the numbers were never there. But it is quite appropriate to say that the Assembly did not reject the Bill. I would hope that this piece of legislation would be considered - - -

Mr Berry: We never opposed it. There were eight of us. It needed only you.

MR MOORE: Mr Speaker, I see that the Labor Party still has an open mind on it, so I am delighted. Perhaps I misjudged the climate at the time and could have had another piece of legislation carried through the Assembly.


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