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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (15 August) . . Page.. 2144..


MR BARR (continuing):

1970s nirvana education system. The time has come to look at where education needs to be in 2020. The time is now and the government is doing it.

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Minister, why have you made this decision date so late in the year and so close to Christmas?

MR BARR: Obviously the proposal was put forward on 6 June. The Education Act requires a minimum of six months consultation. That is the government's position. At a number of public meetings I have in fact been asked to make decisions now-to bring forward the decision-making process. I think it is important to note that it does not matter what date the government settles on to conclude a consultation process, there will always be someone who will be unhappy with that date.

Fundamentally, though, the issues remain unchanged. Regardless of what date you settle on, the issues remain unchanged. We are getting bogged down, as we inevitably do in this place, in a debate about process with no debate or significantly less debate about the real issues that need to be addressed. So much of the questioning has been around this date and that date. It has been all about process. Probably it is a reflection upon the inability or the unwillingness of those opposite to actually engage in a serious policy issue. In fact, we can see from the array of matters that have been set down for tomorrow further evidence of seeking to hide from presenting a policy and a position-of actually having something significant to say about this issue. That is what we are seeing, Mr Speaker.

I repeat: the time to address these issues is now. We are having the debate. Let us get fair dinkum about it. Let us see some actual policy, some actual options and some serious thought about how we can improve public eduction in the ACT. That is a debate I am very happy to engage in. I think it is a crucial debate in this territory. It is one of the most important things that we can debate in this Assembly. But so far it is all about name-calling; it is all about who said what to whom and who said what about whom. Surely we can do a bit better than that.

As I indicated before, Mrs Dunne, the Liberal Party needs to be mature enough to stand up for what it really believes, what it really knows to be the situation and what needs to be done. The Chief Minister alluded to the fact that Mr Stefaniak previously sat in exactly my position in this place. He should come to a similar conclusion. Here is your chance to show some ticker, mate. Let us see what you have got.

Mr Stanhope

: Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper.

Personal explanations

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra-Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Minister for the Arts): I take a point of order, Mr Speaker, and seek your guidance on an appropriate response. In question time today, Mr Smyth-

MR SPEAKER: You can make a personal explanation under standing order 46. I take it that you claim to have been misrepresented.


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