Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (15 August) . . Page.. 2138..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
has no plans to sell the school sites. The position that the government takes in relation to all land excess to government requirements is that it will be subjected to a planning process, with an assessment by ACTPLA, and that the highest possible use, consistent with other priorities, will be pursued.
The essential point that Mr Barr makes, and which I was making on Chief Minister Talkback-I am flattered that Mr Seselja listens; it is good that he seeks to keep in touch with the community through Chief Minister Talkback, so I thank him for that-is that none of the decisions reflected in the government's budget position or in the government's policy proposal of a vision for education for 2020 were based on a consideration of any return from the sale of land. The possible sale of any site of any school that might be closed has not been considered.
The essential point that Mr Barr makes-and he can explain it to you if you care to ask him about the detail of the statement he made-is that none of the decisions and none of the plans and none of the proposals have been based on any consideration of a possible future use of any of the sites. In the expectation that schools will close-and they certainly will in the context of the government taking the decision forward-there will be significant numbers of school closures. Unlike the opposition, we are prepared to put the public interest first. We are prepared to accept the political implications of taking hard, tough decisions. We do not have the wobbly knees that you have exhibited on every occasion when people within your party have sought to take a reasonable, public-minded view and position in relation to the rationalisation, development and creation of a public education system that meets our high expectations of a public education system.
Our public education system is the best in Australia. It fulfils our essential and absolute commitment to ensure equality of access to quality education by all Canberrans, no matter their background or capacity. We will provide that through our determination to address these difficult issues. We will not wobble like Gary Humphries did when he was the minister for education back in 1991. Have you seen the statements that Mr Humphries made at the time and subsequent to his cabinet suffering a loss of political will and folding on him? Mr Humphries then shook a metaphoric finger at politicians of the future and said, "Don't do what I did. Don't fold on this. Don't lose your courage. Do the right thing."That is what Senator Humphries, as he is now, said.
It is interesting to read the press reports of Mr Humphries's retreat from the position that he could not get his cabinet and his government to support. The cabinet documents have been released and Mr Stefaniak, who is not known for strength of character-or strength of any sort-fell over at the first hurdle. He said, "We won't do that."
MR SPEAKER: The minister's time has expired.
MR SESELJA: I ask a supplementary question. Chief Minister, will you comply with Labor Party policy and direct the proceeds of the sale of school property back into the education system?
Mr Barr: A hypothetical question.
MR STANHOPE: It is a hypothetical question. I have said that the government has absolutely no plans to sell any school sites, none at all-not one. We have not given it