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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 3222..


MR MULCAHY: Yes, thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, why were the current operators not able to obtain a meeting with either you or a member of your department to discuss the decision to put this matter out to tender either before or since the decision was announced?

MR HARGREAVES: I had meetings with the principal and with an advocate on behalf of the principal over a year ago-maybe even a bit longer than that-about the whole process. My department has been in conversation with that company, with Thiess and with other people who are expressing an interest in the recycling part; that is to say, the oil, batteries and other recycled materials.

Mr Mulcahy should know, as he purports to be the Treasurer-in-waiting, that once a tender process has been enjoined it is totally inappropriate-I might even suggest illegal-for somebody to interfere in that process. The reason Procurement Solutions are conducting this tender process is that they will be seen to be at arm's length from the department that wishes the contract let. We will have it independently evaluated.

The reason I will not speak to anybody at this point-nor will I make any media comment about this-is that I do not want any perceptions that anything that I say may encourage or discourage anybody from submitting a tender. I will not have me or my office accused of being able to influence anybody to put forward or to discourage anybody from putting forward a tender offer. It is out to tender and it is now out of my hands. That is the second time I have said it, and it is the last time I will say it.

Schools—closures

MRS DUNNE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the minister for education. Minister, I refer to figures published recently by you that reveal that applications for enrolments at Melba high and Copland College are down by 16 per cent and 23 per cent respectively. I have also been told by parents of children at schools in my area that, as a general rule, the majority of year 6 students from the feeder primary schools enrol in Melba high school. This was certainly the case last year but, instead, this year student bookings are down substantially for Melba high school out of the feeder primary schools, and the big winner is St Francis Xavier high school. Minister, how do you account for the drop in enrolment applications at Melba high school and Copland College?

MR BARR: I thank Mrs Dunne for the question. Obviously, the figures the government released showed an across-the-board increase in interest in government high schools and colleges. There are clearly some localised instances where applications are down on last year. We could speculate as to a variety of factors for that. I do not think, as Mrs Dunne might be insinuating, that there are issues in West Belconnen that are different from other regions in the city. My sense is that across the territory there is increased interest in public education. The figures certainly bear that out. There may be-certainly in my consultations-some concern about the particular education models, given that the government has put forward a series of options in that region. There may be an effect in this first round as a result of that.

Not having conducted individual surveys with parents who have not sought to enrol at Melba high this year at this point, I am not in a position to provide a detailed analysis of


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