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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 3245..


DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.32), in reply: I thank all members who contributed to this debate. I would like to close the debate by responding to some of the points that were raised. Mrs Dunne said that we still have not seen anything that shows that this proposal will achieve the effects the government says it wants to achieve. I agree. It is a failing of governments, federal and territory, that they just answer a question about what they are doing by mentioning a sum of money.

That one definitely does not work when we have a budget in front of us that is talking about efficiencies. On the one hand we are being told that community service organisations can achieve the same ends by spending less money, and on the other hand we are saying that the government is improving public education by putting millions of dollars into it. Those millions of dollars may improve public education, but just spending them is in no way an indication that it is.

I must apologise to Mr Barr if he feels I am denigrating him. I am not denigrating him. I do not play my politics personally, and I try not to take personally things that are said to me. He is criticising me for this motion, saying that it is just about process and that most of the things that have been said by me or moved by me are just criticisms of process, so they can be cast aside. Well, they are about process. They are about the democratic process. I am elected here as a member. People are going to say things to me that they are not going to say to Ms Porter. That is a fact of life. People probably will not say to Ms Porter, "We are really glad about what you are doing to save our schools."They might say it to Ms Porter. There is no evidence that she is doing it here today in the school, but I am sure there are a number of backdoor processes in train.

We really want to see these processes made open and transparent, and we want people to believe that they are going to make a difference. Yes, there is a need for change. That has always been acknowledged by the Greens. The question is: what is that change for and how will it be achieved? This motion is not about postponing. It is about having all the information so the community can trust that this elected government has made the right decision. It is a very simple thing.

Everything Mr Barr says suggests this government believes that what it does is right just because it is the government. It is an oxymoron. It is also not true. This motion is not just about process; it is about information. It is about getting the information on the table. It is about analysis. It is about doing the work.

All states are dealing with these issues. The ACT is not alone here. They are dealing with changing demographics. They are dealing with the impact of federal government policy, which has hit the public system very hard. They are dealing with ageing and often inappropriate infrastructure.

We all know that there have been fashions in building schools. Some of those schools have stood the test of time and others have not. I believe that the way space is designed is really important to learning outcomes. I am certainly not opposed to change of infrastructure, but I still maintain that the real problems in our schools are most felt at the secondary school level. I think recent statistics indicate this. The government knew this because, before it was elected, before the election campaign, it said that that was where the focus would be.


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