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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 8 Hansard (25 October) . . Page.. 2009..


Mr Humphries: And we will not.

MS McRAE: "And we will not", they say. But will they allow them the time, the support and the capacity to keep the school open? We know that we have been working at it for three years. If they were serious about not offering supplementation forever, which I have now heard Mr Stefaniak say about six times, and which he said to me in question time yesterday, they could have amended this motion today and said, "All right; we will not offer supplementation forever; but we will create a task force, do everything we can to revisit option 1, and see whether it can work". They could have amended the motion and said, "Okay, supplementation for one year. After that, we will let the school close". Did we hear anything like that? No. All we heard was mockery. All we heard was about Tonto and his henchmen. All we heard was about the dreadful rabblerousers we were. All we heard was a rewriting of history from a Liberal perspective. All we heard about was political point-scoring, as though we are madly point-scoring all the way through.

These people are walking away from their own responsibilities, from their own promises, from their own budget, from the things that they know about. There is no walking away from the fact that this Minister for Education is the Minister for Education now. This Minister for Education has the responsibility for schools now. He has been able to exercise his authority. He has been exercising his authority with care with some schools already. He told me in question time that supplementation is offered to schools for a range of reasons, as I well know. Nothing prevents him from looking seriously at the options that were put before these schools and at offering serious support to this school. If he does not want to offer supplementation, there are lots of other ways to be serious about the options that were put forward.

Only now, disgracefully, after Mr Osborne had the sense to raise the question, does the school hear that they are going to get any external support next year. Why was that not told to them first? Maybe then the option of going to Ginninderra might have been made softer, but that option was not on the paper. I find no comfort in their saying, "Yes, we are going to help you settle your poor little kids". Big, big deal! It makes a mockery of the four options. Worst of all, we have still not heard why this straw man of option 1 was set up; why a school that quite responsibly will deal with the shortcomings of staff and put up an idea that might have been worked on was given no chance to work on that idea. They have six weeks to make this decision. Why could not 10 teachers be put to work here and now, within this year? Was that offered? No. The reality is that this Government wants the community to say, "Yes, we will close our school", so that this Government can wander around and say, "We never closed a school".

It is very easy to point fingers and call Mr Berry and me names. You can do that forever. You can carry on about history forever. But this Minister now had the choice. This Minister now was in charge. This Minister now has shown no concern for the very options that his own department put up and now leaves the school to close. That is the reality of this situation. The whole two hours of debate have made the situation no clearer, other than us finding out once and for all that the Chief Minister is willing to run a budget that she will not take responsibility for, that she does not stand up for, and that has no basis in social justice or concern for this community.


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