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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 6 Hansard (7 June) . . Page.. 1831..

MR SESELJA (continuing):

minister and say: "Yes, we trust you, minister. You just go and close the schools you think should be closed and you do a token consultation."

The Education Amendment Bill No 2 states that "To ensure that school communities ... the minister must, before a decision is made ... tell the communities about proposal". We have got a hit list of 39, so they have done that. The bill then states that the minister must "listen to, and consider, their views". What exactly does that mean? The former education minister has said that "listen to, and consider"does not mean consult. We have heard some of the views today on talkback. We have read them in the Canberra Times. Is it going to be sufficient if the minister considers those views and then goes and closes the schools anyway?

The government's amendments are nothing amendments. The minister was dragged here kicking and screaming under pressure from Mrs Dunne. These amendments do nothing. Mr Speaker, given your public comments on this issue, I struggle to understand how you could possibly support this as some sort of attempt at genuine consultation before closing schools. These amendments do nothing.

Mrs Dunne's amendments pick up the good work that Mr Stefaniak did in government. When he was in government Mr Stefaniak had the courage to say that if the government were to consider closing schools, it would put in place comprehensive guidelines to govern that process; the government would listen to, and consider, the views of the community, not conduct token consultation. When he was in government Mr Stefaniak had the courage to hold himself to that standard. Mr Barr is refusing to hold himself to that high standard. Instead he is engaging in tokenism, with a hit list of 40 schools.

The government was not open and honest before the election. Let us be clear about that. No-one in the government is even pretending. It is on the public record. They knew this was going to happen, but they did not want to say so before the election. Now they are asking us to trust them to put in place this token consultation process and everything will be okay. Well, we do not trust this government, and nor should we, and the community should not trust the government on school closures. Mr Speaker, I ask you in particular to support the bill. We know that the government will not support the bill. I ask Dr Foskey to support the bill. It will hold the government and the minister to account. The government has shown that it cannot be trusted in the area of public education.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.29 to 2.30 pm.

Ministerial arrangements

MR STANHOPE: For the information and assistance of members of the Assembly, I indicate that, for question time today, the Minister for the Territory and Municipal Services will not be taking questions. Any questions that may have been directed to him in his capacity as Minister for the Territory and Municipal Services may be directed to me. Any questions involving housing may be directed to the Deputy Chief Minister.

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