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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (15 August) . . Page.. 2119..


MR CORBELL (continuing):

of a motion about proposed reductions in superannuation for new ACT public service employees. I was not there. I do not know whether the Liberal Party checked its facts. I was not there. The motion was dealt with late in the day and I had already left the conference room. I cast no vote on that motion because I was not there. I had left the conference for the day.

This shows the paucity of the argument that the Liberal Party has made today. As the Chief Minister says, it is solely a motion designed to take cheap political advantage of one of the most difficult structural and political issues our city has to face; that is, that the concept of neighbourhood schools, with every suburb having a school, does not work. We have a responsibility as legislators, we have a responsibility as representatives, to talk with our community about that reality, rather than pretending that that reality no longer exists, or does not exist, or is not confronting us, and that it is all right to insist that every suburb must have a school.

Everyone in this place knows that it does not work anymore and, as a result, small schools cost this community more and more money and not for the best educational outcomes. The community as a whole cannot afford that prospect and it does not deliver the quality educational opportunities we want for our children. That is the issue the Liberals fail to address when they move motions like this today. They fail to tackle the hard issue about structural reform in our education system. They walk away from it. They fail to grasp the nettle. They have no backbone and they have no guts to address the issue. Instead they seek simply to take cheap political advantage at the margins.

The Labor Party is not interested in dealing with issues on the margins. We are prepared to weigh into this debate. We are prepared to say what we believe and say what we think needs to be done to improve public education in this city. That is what this party is prepared to do. It is a party that demonstrates guts and commitment for doing it. In contrast the Liberal Party is like the great political raven of the ACT political scene. It does not make the kills or promote any new ideas but is really happy to sit around the edges and just pick at bits and pieces. It is really happy to pick at this problem or that problem, but offers no leadership, no policy, no guts to tackle the hard decisions-simply a position to take cheap political advantage.

Members can do that in their motion today and can call me someone with no honour and no integrity, because it is the only place they can call me that. But it is not true. I reject it absolutely. I say to members of the opposition: show us your courage, your commitment and your integrity by talking with our community seriously about the problems our city faces with public education, rather than taking the cheap political advantage that you seek to take today.

MR PRATT (Brindabella) (12.00): There is a definite case for moving this motion relating to a want of confidence in two ministers, Ms Gallagher and Mr Corbell. As a number of letter writers to the Canberra Times have recently asked, why bother to elect local representatives only for them to end up voting as they are told by either the Chief Minister or internal Labor Party factions? Why are they not representing the views of the community who elected them? As was also expressed in recent letters to the editor, it seems that the non-elected factions of the Labor Party clearly have a stranglehold over the voting freedoms of democratically elected representatives, who should not be constrained to vote along factional lines but who should vote on behalf of


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