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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 4 Hansard (4 May) . . Page.. 1208..


MR BARR (continuing):

Ms Gallagher began in the process of change in west Belconnen. I believe that was a wise decision and one that showed foresight in investing in public education.

Mr Speaker, I am proud to stand up here as a minister for education and a strong supporter of public education in this city. I question whether those opposite have the same commitment to public education.

Mr Smyth: Of course we do. We went through the system.

MR BARR: I think the evidence is somewhat different. But if there is to be a change of heart by the Liberal opposition and are they going to come on board in support of reform in public education to see our system strengthened, I would welcome that.

Mr Hargreaves: You may not live that long.

MR BARR: I may not, Mr Hargreaves. I may not live that long. But if the opposition is genuine, I would welcome that. I believe that public education needs all the supporters it can get, all the champions it can get. We have been experiencing across the country a period where the enrolment drift has been away from public education. I would like to see that reversed and I will be taking forward in the coming months a package to address those issues.

MR SESELJA: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Minister, when do you anticipate that your hit list of schools will be completed?

MR BARR: There is no hit list. I do anticipate bringing forward a package of reform in the coming months.

Gungahlin Drive extension

DR FOSKEY: My question is to the minister for municipal affairs and concerns the environment. Can the minister explain how the endemic population of the endangered Swainsona recta, the small purple pea, in south-east Belconnen will be protected during the development of the Gungahlin Drive extension, including the upgrading of William Hovell Drive and the Glenloch Interchange?

MR HARGREAVES: That was a really good trick question, Dr Foskey; it was a beauty! The development of the Gungahlin Drive extension and the roadworks that have been completed over a period have been done in consultation with the Conservator of Flora and Fauna and have been done in concert with all manner of environmental experts. I have to confess that I do not know about the endangered pea of which you speak, Dr Foskey. I will take the question on board and investigate who has been doing what to peas in the Gungahlin Drive extension. I will take advice on that. I have to say, though, in answering your question in general terms, that I am particularly impressed with the sensitivity with which the contractors and the planners have done their work on the GDE.

You might have heard us talking recently about six 76-tonne spans going across Ginninderra Drive. A media release on that talked about what would happen across the GDE all up. Eighty thousand trees have been put back. Interestingly, they were not just


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