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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 13 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4009..

MR BARR (continuing):

technical amendments that would not otherwise warrant a specific piece of amending legislation.

The government has had ongoing discussions with the P&C association concerning the issue of fees and charges. The outcome of those negotiations was that the guidelines could be given effect in other ways that did not require recourse to legislation. The government therefore decided that this amendment—and hence the main purpose of the bill—was no longer necessary.

However, the government was of the view that the bill should proceed with technical amendments and that it should take the opportunity to include some further minor amendments where the opportunity presented. It has come to our notice during the year, for example, that the "in-principle"provisions, which were a key aspect of the Education Bill when introduced in 2003, made reference to new schools and to additional education levels. However, the act was silent on the procedures for registering an additional campus.

In order to avoid ambiguity and to give effect to the intent of the legislation, this amendment has been included as a government amendment to the Education Amendment Bill. I am advised that members who were in this chamber during the debate on the original Education Bill in 2003 will recall that the bill was shaped in part by the recommendations of the Connors report, which recommended that the government establish procedures for the expansion of non-government schools.

The legislation was designed to ensure that there would be an open process where the minister could take account of comments on the proposal by people affected by it. The minister could then consider evidence of demand, community support and financial capacity.

This amendment does no more than remove any ambiguity that this "in-principle"process applies to any additional educational provision, whether it is additional education levels, a new school or an additional campus. Members will note that the amendments replicate, virtually clause by clause, those sections in the act that apply to the registration process for a new school or an additional educational level.

The government consulted widely at the time, including with the Association of Independent Schools and the Catholic Education Office, on these core elements of the new legislation. It is the government's view that these technical amendments do not necessitate further community consultation. Whilst I apologise for the short notice to the opposition and the Greens on the government amendments, I think the point has been made that consultation has been at the core of the government's approach.

We consulted extensively with the P&C associations before deciding to withdraw our amendment to section 26. We consulted widely with the community in 2003 on the inclusion of processes that enhance registration requirements for non-government schools. That process was supported by both the government and non-government school sectors at that time. This technical amendment gives effect to an open consultation process that was always at the heart of the Education Act 2004.

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