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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 August 2005 2005) . . Page.. 3141 ..

recognises that this government fails when it comes to consultation. It can talk about consultation, but when it comes to really taking people into its confidence what happens? It falls down. We have had it here today.

We just had the minister saying, “We’re putting on buses to Amaroo. You can go and inspect Amaroo. These children can go out to Amaroo and inspect Amaroo.” They have also been told that they can enrol in any school in the territory that they want except Amaroo. They cannot go to Amaroo. This is about consultation. It is about real consultation. The minister has already decided that she is going to close Higgins preschool and primary school and Holt preschool and primary school. When is that consultation going to take place? In two years time or three years time those schools will close. That decision has already been made, and without consultation with those school communities.

What we have here is the government’s approach. They are saying, “We’re taking something away but we’re giving something back in return.” That sounds great on the surface. But what we have is the $43 million cargo cult. We have condescension from the Chief Minister, who in this place today told the parents of the students of Ginninderra district high school, in the same way he told them outside the ALP conference on 30 July, that they were doing their children a disservice by persisting in sending their children to Ginninderra district high because they did not have the breadth of curriculum choice that was available in other schools.

Really, what it boils down to is that he is saying that he knows better, but the children and the parents at west Belconnen say, “Curriculum choice, a diversity of different subjects, is not an issue. We want to learn the basics. We want to learn how to read and write and to learn our history and learn the skills of learning history.” It does not matter whether you are learning ancient history, medieval history or the history of the renaissance. You can have essentially what Bruce Springsteen spoke about in his song, “57 channels but still nothing on.”

The importance point is the quality of the education that people are receiving in an intimate environment. The government is back-pedalling all over the place. As Mr Seselja said, they talk about scaremongering, and “scaremongering” in this place is code for, “You are getting under our skin. You are actually bringing home some truths and we do not like it.” What we are seeing here is a government in retreat, in disarray, in complete disarray.

The minister is now saying, “We are looking at other options about where we might build the school.” That is a certain degree of openness, but she is retreating from her original position, which was to say, “The advice I’ve received is that the best place I can build this school, and therefore I’m going to do it, is on the footprint of the existing building and we’re going to pull it down, and to pull it down we have to get all the kids out,” so that by yesterday every child at Ginninderra district high had to make an election about where they would go next year. The children who had made elections early were forced out, were encouraged to go, so that by the time we get to the next meeting in September there will almost nobody left at Ginninderra district high, which will make it easier for this government to close it down.

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