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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 6 Hansard (7 June) . . Page.. 1853..


MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

consulting them and saying, "We have got real problems with you for X, Y, Z reasons; we think you should consider amalgamation, closure or whatever,"and actually consulting, we now have as a fait accompli a list of schools and preschools which are to close.

I am not surprised that the government is not addressing this issue properly and is not going to vote for Mrs Dunne's very sensible bill and very sensible process of community consultation on school amalgamations or closures. What is proposed here is quite extraordinary. I have been through the document and some of the rationales given on what is proposed.

For example, Dr Foskey talked about Dickson college. I have already had a few people who are concerned about that ring my office. I assume the quid pro quo there is that Campbell high is to be year 7 to year 12. We are going back to the old Whitlam scheme which was in operation when I went through school at Narrabundah high. I can remember the days when Campbell high was year 7 to year 12. Obviously there are a number of issues there.

I heard what Dr Foskey said. Dickson college is certainly a college that takes people from not only the immediate area but also outside. It has some excellent programs and some excellent facilities. One person who rang up my office yesterday said, "You will be taking away the only college which has ovals and sporting facilities in the vicinity which can be used by the students there."

I also note-obviously in my own electorate, to start with-Hall preschool and Hall primary school are on the list. Whilst history should not be perhaps the paramount or only reason, I point out to the government that the Hall preschool, which I see has got 15 students, was always a part-time preschool. I do not think it was ever more than a part-time preschool for the last 10 years or so. The primary school has always had a fairly small capacity, but it has always had a reasonable percentage of students. It is a school which goes back to about 1911 or 1904. It is nearly 100 years old. Since, I think, 1911 there has continuously been a school there. It is a village. It is one of two villages left in the ACT. Dr Foskey made the point about village schools. So there is a lot of history there.

Getting out of my electorate, I say the same thing about Tharwa. Tharwa started in, and has continually had educational programs since, 1899. Again, there are usually no more than about 35 students there, but there is a lot of history there. The village of Tharwa services the rural areas of the ACT, as indeed does Hall. Hall services areas a bit over the border and its postcode is almost a New South Wales postcode. But students come here because that is their closest school. Yes, those two schools are village schools. There is a lot of history there and the government does not seem to be taking any note of that whatsoever.

It is crucially important to take people with you as much as you can. Most people in our community now accept the need for a rationalisation of schools or for some school closures. Unlike the current Labor government, we at least went to the last election indicating that we would support some school closures. But you want to do it in a proper way. You want to do it with consultation, unlike you lot who went to the last election promising you would not close any schools. Here we are 18 months down the track and


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