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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 9 Hansard (19 September) . . Page.. 2869..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

They should think a little before they make allegations on truancy rates. This is the allegation that was made last week. It is offensive. It is judgmental. It is patronising. It is insulting to indigenous people within this community to the extent that it bundles them together and suggests that they are not ensuring their children get to school. The differential between attendance by indigenous students in government primary schools and non-indigenous students is five per cent—88 against 93.

MR SPEAKER: The minister's time has expired.

MRS BURKE: I thank the minister for the non-answer and ask a supplementary question. What consultations has the ACT government conducted with indigenous communities? What groups and indigenous elders have been consulted on the impact of school closures on them, and on what dates?

MR STANHOPE: The government is engaging in the most exhaustive period of consultation probably in the history of the ACT. To date there have been 550 meetings in relation to the school closures proposal. The minister has personally conducted 60 of those meetings, with 500 being conducted by the department, and similar numbers to come.

The consultation in relation to these proposals has been exhaustive and exhausting. It is a level of consultation that the Liberal Party, we see now, wishes to emulate through its decision to actually develop a policy on something. Anything will do. We will, of course, follow those consultations and keep count of how many they get through. We will be watching with great interest to see where the money comes from for the proposals.

The time has come across the board for the opposition and for the Greens, for that matter, to give some indication as to which of the policies we are pursuing they will not pursue—those decisions that they would take, were they in government, which would reverse decisions that we will take. We saw some of these through the budget debate. The tally is up to about $300 million. I would hate to be the Treasurer in the next Liberal government.

Mrs Burke: I raise a point of order under standing order 118 (b). Can the Chief Minister please stick to the subject matter? I asked what groups and indigenous elders have been consulted on the impact of school closures upon them, and on what dates.

MR STANHOPE: The government is engaging in an exhaustive consultation process in relation to school closures. The minister has conducted 60 meetings. The department has conducted over 500, with the expectation that those meetings will continue. Nobody has been excluded from consultation in relation to the school closures and the impact on individual children. The department will ensure that there is a detailed transitional plan or arrangement for every single child affected by the proposals. That is the level of consultation and detail that the department and the government are engaged in. It is personal.

The answer to your question, Mrs Burke, is that every single child affected or potentially affected by a school closure will receive personal assistance. There will be consultation


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