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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 3232..


DR FOSKEY (continuing):

and I believe that in a time of such far-reaching change, the community has every right to expect that work to be done.

It is interesting that when the Towards 2020 plan was released at the time of the budget, of 70 media releases there was not one that alluded to the proposed 2020 plan. I do not think this indicates that the government was feeling particularly proud of this proposal. Of course, the school communities affected, including teachers, local shop owners, parents and so on, were shocked and horrified, not just at the plan, but at the lack of a clear and detailed rationale.

The government has decided to respond to the ongoing criticisms of this plan in three ways. First, it takes a big picture approach and argues that change and innovation are necessary, and that this is what this plan delivers. Second, it says that Towards 2020 is merely a proposal and that the so-called consultation process will shape the final outcomes. Third, it denigrates good-hearted, well-intentioned people who are totally committed to public education, who put voluntary hours, unpaid hours, into providing more information-

Mr Barr: So he can go around calling me a liar in the media all the time and I am not allowed to respond.

DR FOSKEY: This is an indication that the government feels very fragile about the issue of school closures. I think Mr Barr's attitude is an indicator of this government's attitude to people who speak, as is their democratic right. I, as a member of the Assembly, have that right, and so does every other person in this community. Mr Barr and other members denigrate and ridicule those people in the community who speak out. It does you no credit, Mr Barr. It indicates a degree of smugness and suggests that you are not really listening to people.

My bill to put a moratorium on this plan in order to allow for a more careful and organised discussion and negotiation to go on within government and with affected communities was rejected by this government. This afternoon, Mrs Dunne's bill, which is similar, perhaps will have a better treatment, but the indications are not good. The minister for education and the Chief Minister argued, in essence, that if it is to be done, it is best that it is done quickly and, by the way, it will be done no matter what you say, because we believe it is the right thing to do. As we know-and it is forever on the record-no other Labor member spoke in that debate.

Not one of the Labor members who voted in favour of a motion with a similar intent at the Labor Party conference spoke in that debate. Not one of the backbenchers who had been approached by school communities asking them to support my bill in order that they could have more time to develop options for their communities or to organise other arrangements for their kids was prepared to contribute to that debate. Not one of those members was prepared to put on the record why they supported this policy, so being accountable to their constituents.

Does this mean they do not believe they have a responsibility to declare and explain their position to their constituents? I would imagine that Labor members could support this motion, because I am quite sure that all members of the government are committed to good governance and committed to following processes that they have agreed to in other


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