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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 12 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 3680..

Mr Stanhope: I beg the Assembly's pardon, Mr Speaker. I am not aware of where my colleague is at the moment but I am sure he will be here shortly. I beg members' indulgence until he arrives.


MRS DUNNE: My question is directed to the minister for education. Under the so-called school renewal program, Towards 2020, there is a proposal to close 22 preschools, 14 of which are scheduled to close at the end of this year. Given that the preschool associations—that is, the parent associations—own all of the removable inventory in preschools, what assistance will be given to associations of those preschools that you close to wind up their affairs and divest themselves of the resources that they own in the preschools?

MR BARR: It is the case that the government has put forward a proposal whereby some preschools will close progressively over a three-year period. I understand that the majority of those preschools are proposed to close at the end of this year. There is a further stage process at the end of 2007 or at the end of 2008.

Should the proposal proceed, the government will be working with the Canberra Pre-School Society on the issues that Mrs Dunne has raised. A number of issues need to be considered in that context. We have already begun conversations with the preschool society. I have had discussions as I have moved around the preschools over the last six months and I have sought to talk with individual preschools about those issues. As Mrs Dunne has identified, there are assets that belong to the parent associations of those preschools. The government would not seek to direct those assets in a way that the preschools associations or parent associations were unhappy with. We expect to work in consultation with them should any preschools close.

MRS DUNNE: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Minister, what access will preschool parent associations have to the property that they own on the sites of the preschools after the preschools close? Who will be responsible for maintaining their security after preschools close?

MR BARR: Obviously, the associations would still have access to their assets. We would seek to work with them in order to ensure that they were properly secured. Where assets might go will be on a case-by-case basis. But the government will work collaboratively with the associations in the event of any preschools closing.

At this point, I hasten to add that there is a proposal on the table. Mrs Dunne's questions are largely hypothetical at this point, as no decisions have been taken. If and when these issues arise, the government has undertaken—in the lead-up to this it had some conversations obviously with the preschool society around what options may be considered—that the full detail will be worked through at the conclusion of the consultation process and when decisions are actually taken.

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