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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 8 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 2562..

(iv) linkages and co-operation between the vocational education and training sector and education sectors; and

(v) responsiveness of the vocational education and training sector to the needs of business and the wider community;

(c) Higher Education:

(i) the demand for higher education and whether that demand is being met;

(ii) the preparedness of ACT students for higher education;

(iii) factors affecting educational outcomes of ACT students in higher education;

(iv) national and international comparisons with the ACT higher education system;

(v) linkages and co-operation between the higher education sector and education sectors;

(vi) responsiveness of the higher education sector to the needs of business and the wider community; and

(vii) any other related matters;

(2) The inquiry process—The process should take the following steps:

(a) call for submissions on the future of the ACT Education system and related matters;

(b) require submissions from key stakeholders;

(c) conduct public hearings and cross-examination of interested parties;

(d) stakeholders including, but not restricted to, the key agencies and organisations; and

(e) take submissions on the draft and finalise the concept and framework document for delivery to the ACT Government; and

(3) Timeframes for the inquiry—The final report to be presented by 31 March 2008.

Mr Deputy Speaker, the Canberra community has been very anxious and concerned about the school closures policy contained in the Towards 2020 proposal announced in the June budget. We have seen unprecedented public meetings in various communities since the budget, with parents, teachers and students trying to make sense of this plan to close 39 schools. Of concern is both the monumental scale of this Towards 2020 document and the fact that it emerged in the budget without any lead-up consultation with the Canberra community. The government had not talked about closing schools. It has not been engaged with the community in any discourse about this approach. The Canberra community is reeling from the implications of this draconian approach.

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