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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 7 June 2006) . . Page.. 1824 ..

Standing orders—suspension

Motion (by Mr Corbell) agreed to, with the concurrence of an absolute majority:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent Order of the day No. 11, Executive business, relating to the Education Amendment Bill 2006 (No. 2), being called on and debated cognately with Order of the day No. 1, Private Members’ business, relating to the Education Amendment Bill 2005.

Education Amendment Bill 2005

[Cognate bill:

Education Amendment Bill 2006 (No 2)]

Debate resumed from 3 May 2006, on motion by Mrs Dunne:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation and Minister for Industrial Relations) (12.03): Mr Speaker, the government will not be supporting Mrs Dunne’s amendments to the Education Act 2004. Section 20 of the act acknowledges the important role of schools in the lives of individuals in the community. It provides for a consultation period of at least six months before the closure or amalgamation of a school and for the consideration of the educational, financial and social impacts on students, their families and the general school community.

Mrs Dunne’s amendments seek to limit the government’s ability to put forth concrete proposals. The primary effect of Mrs Dunne’s amendments would be to create an extended period of uncertainty and disruption. This is not in anyone’s interests, least of all the interests of school communities.

Mrs Dunne’s proposal to replace the words “school communities” with the words “each school community” makes no substantive difference to the meaning of the current provision. The act currently includes the obligation to ensure that school communities affected must be consulted. This does not allow for a random selection of school communities; rather, it considers those school communities that might be affected in a meaningful or material way.

It is no mystery that these amendments have been prompted by this government’s intention to tackle the challenges that are facing our public education system. As I have said before in this place, there are nearly 18,000 empty desks across the ACT public school system. Keeping surplus capacity at such levels is costly, making it increasingly difficult to maintain the highest standards of educational facilities and services in all 95 schools.

This government believes in a viable quality public education system, but we know that difficult choices need to be made to ensure educational quality across the territory. As I have said before, this government believes some form of school closures is unavoidable. The government has actively developed a renewal program to rejuvenate the public

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